By JACKIE HAUSLER
Published January 23, 2024
How is the national opioid crisis impacting society? Will cannabis continue to become decriminalized? Can psychedelic medicine truly help psychological suffering?
A new, one-of-a-kind degree program will help students discover answers to these questions and more. Experts from across the university are joining forces to offer courses for a master’s degree in drugs, health and society. Housed in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, this multidisciplinary program allows students to receive advanced training in both the science and politics of drugs and addiction.
“Nearly all other academic centers in this subject area focus primarily on addiction treatment or biomedical research into addiction,” says David Herzberg, program director, professor of history and internationally recognized historian of drugs and addiction who has decades of experience working on the social and political dimensions of the issues both in and beyond the academy.
“Our full-spectrum program covers the scientific and medical angles but does so in continual dialogue with social and political questions, preparing students for the widest possible range of careers helping our society navigate the boom in psychoactive products, and helping individuals with the problems that can be associated with drug use,” Herzberg adds.
Students of the program will develop knowledge of the science of drugs, drug use and addiction, and will become familiar with and able to apply the main modalities of addiction treatment. They will develop critical thinking skills wrestling with the biomedical, psychological, public health and political dimensions of drug commerce, drug use and drug addiction.
“Humanists studying society, culture, economics and politics are often brought into the conversation too late to influence the basic parameters of inquiry and the overall shape of health interventions,” says Herzberg. “Our multidisciplinary program ensures that there are a full range of experts from the outset and at the table at every stage of the process.”
The program requires 30 credit hours of master-level courses and two different concentration options: Science and Health, or Society and Politics. Students working toward the degree will incorporate 27 credit hours across the disciplines of history, nursing, pharmacology and toxicology, public health, disability studies, law, psychology, social work and sociology. Students also have the opportunity to be mentored by faculty for a three-credit master’s project.
Graduates of the program will be prepared to enter a wide range of career paths, including addiction treatment or research, drug policy or advocacy and other drug-related scientific or medical disciplines. Graduates are also prepared for success in adjacent career paths where expertise on drugs and addiction is important, including journalism, human resources, criminal justice and beyond.
Applications for the fall 2024 semester are due April 1. Visit the MA in Health, Drugs and Society program page to learn more.