The PhD program in Community Health Promotion at the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) is a comprehensive and dynamic program designed to meet the needs of Iran and the world. The program is inspired by the principles of the Bahá'í Faith, which emphasizes the importance of the unity of all people, the elimination of prejudice and discrimination, and the pursuit of social justice. These principles are integrated into the curriculum, creating a unique and enriching learning experience for students.
The program focuses on a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on topics/themes such as community health promotion, environmental health, epidemiological research methods, and healthcare systems. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the social determinants of health, the impact of environmental and social factors on health, and the theories and models of behavioral change.
The program is structured to promote critical thinking and research skills. Students will be equipped with the tools to conduct high-quality research and to develop evidence-based interventions that promote health and prevent disease. They will also learn how to analyze and interpret health data, design health education materials, and evaluate health promotion programs.
The program also emphasizes the importance of community engagement and partnership. Students will be encouraged to work closely with community members, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders to design and implement health promotion initiatives that are culturally sensitive and responsive to the needs of the community.
The program faculty consists of renowned experts in the field of community health promotion, with extensive experience in research. They are committed to providing students with a supportive and stimulating learning environment that fosters intellectual growth, academic excellence, and personal development.
Graduates of the program will be well-equipped to pursue careers in a range of settings, including academia, public health, community-based organizations, and international organizations. They will be able to apply their knowledge and skills to address the complex health challenges facing communities in Iran and around the world.
The vision of this program is to prepare advanced Community Health Promotion practitioners capable of engaging and empowering individuals, communities and institutions to address the full spectrum of health determinants (individual, social, institutional, commercial, environmental, policy related), leading to a transformation of health conditions, and ultimately to sustainable health and wellbeing.
The mission of the PhD program is to develop the capacity in students to collaborate with individuals, communities and institutions to identify and address the full spectrum of health determinants and to develop collaborative pathways leading to transforming the determinants of ill health.
The students gain capacity to accompany individuals, communities and institutions in the pursuit of health-related outcomes, and to apply the methods of both social and empirical sciences in supporting those who must act (protagonists) in taking charge of their own health and in the co-creation of knowledge.
Goals and Objectives
The goal of the PhD program is to prepare the student to become active agents of community health promotion in Iran and the world.
The PhD program has 7 objectives that are mainly focused on enhancements of the students’ ability:
- To collaborate at the grassroots with people and communities, and the institutions and organizations that serve them and seek to transform the fundamental determinants of wellbeing.
- To facilitate learning and empowerment processes for individuals, communities and organizations in order to create a culture of participation, learning in action, and capacity building.
- To acquire and share knowledge about the problem sets and best practice solutions for addressing the root causes of ill health as defined by the full spectrum of the determinants of health.
- To understand and interpret research data and outcomes, as well as conducting new, high-quality community health promotion research applied to the transformation of the fundamental determinants of wellbeing.
- To create environments and supportive processes conducive to the empowerment of women in the promotion of health and the wellbeing of communities.
- To undertake transformative work within the field of community health promotion, which requires a number of values and personal qualities in addition to technical knowledge and skills.
- To remain current with the evolving global discourse on community health promotion, and the ability to contribute to that discourse in ways that are coherent with existing scientific thought as well as with the evolving conceptual framework guiding progressive efforts in community health promotion.
- Successful completion or expected completion of a relevant Master’s degree in applied social science such as the Master’s in Public Health with a minimum GPA of 3. Applications from students with alternative backgrounds will be considered on an individual basis, with the possible requirement of additional background preparation.
- Two letters of recommendation.
- Statement of purpose – to include an elaboration of the applicant’s orientation to and history of service to communities, and their vision of their future plans and how they would strengthen the foundations of health in Iran.
- English proficiency level: As per a formal proficiency test equivalent to IELTS exam result of at least 6.5 achieved during the past two year, or a result of 8 at any time.
- History of work or service in community-based projects either related to health or other fields.
- Information on relevant academic and professional experience: this may include services as a teaching assistant (highly desired: an indication of assistance raising capacity in future cohorts of students), research assistant, social worker, schoolteacher.
- Academic achievements: this may include awards, publications, presentations at scientific meetings.
The program has 9 required courses, all of which will be counted for 3 credits each for a total of 27 credits. It is expected that the students will complete these 9 courses within 3 semesters.
Comprehensive Exam: The comprehensive exam will be completed in year two, second semester, following completion of all courses. Students will be asked to formally register for the comprehensive exam in year two, first semester, as the exam will be seen as an important step in the transition to the thesis work of the doctoral program. Students will be drawing on all of their course materials to complete the comprehensive exam, and as such they should review these at the beginning of year two second semester, and take part in several preparatory sessions with course faculty.
The comprehensive exam will consist of the preparation of a proposal for a community health project, as a practical application of all that they have learned to date. During a time-limited exercise of three weeks, students will prepare this proposal outlining how they would address a specified hypothetical community health problem or intervene to improve health in a specific way, for a specific target group. The topic for the comprehensive exam will be different from their thesis research topic. The proposal would include a literature review, description of a situation analysis, discussion of activities, objectives, and the approach to be used for the community health intervention including participatory research and evaluation. This approach emphasizes the practical nature of the program, and will provide an objectively verifiable measure of the students' comprehensive knowledge of the field.