Who we are

The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) brings together the full scope of public health researchers from across disciplines to understand and improve the social contexts and health behaviors that most strongly impact population health and well-being. With over 60 full-time faculty and over 40 postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students, BSS is the largest department in the Brown University School of Public Health. We offer a doctoral degree in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences and support MPH concentrations in Health Behavior, Addictions, Global Health, and Mindfulness, along with playing a central role in the undergraduate public health concentration. Faculty hold doctoral degrees in a wide range of fields including: psychology (including clinical, counseling, and social), public health, human development and family studies, social work, social and behavioral sciences, sociology, anthropology, epidemiology, medicine, nursing, quantitative ecology, biostatistics, maternal child health, nutrition, and international/global health.


To understand and intervene upon the social contexts and health behaviors that most strongly impact population health and well-being.


BSS faculty, fellows, and students use a wide spectrum of methods rooted in behavioral and social sciences to promote healthier systems, environments, and behaviors and address disparities created by structural racism and other systems of oppression, domestically and globally. 

Areas of focus for research in BSS include:

  • Health Equity, Health Disparities, and Racial and Ethnic Minority Health
  • Global Health
  • Alcohol Use and Misuse
  • Drug Use and Misuse
  • HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Reproductive Health
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Health
  • Chronic Disease Prevention and Management
  • Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity
  • Smoking, Nicotine, and Tobacco Use

Core Values

As core values, the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences upholds the central importance of conducting work that is:

  • Collaborative: Collaboration across disciplines is essential for effective public health education, science, and translation of knowledge for the public good.
  • Integrated: Integration of education, training, mentoring, research, community and governmental partnerships, and public health advocacy invigorates our scholarship, increases its societal impact, and effectively builds the next generation of public health scholars and practitioners.
  • Inclusive: Sustaining an inclusive, intentionally diverse community of students, faculty, trainees, and staff is essential to our work. Inclusivity requires a commitment to self-reflection, cultural humility, and planful actions that address structural inequities. We foster a community that is explicitly antiracist and works against anti-Blackness.
  • Responsive: Research to achieve gains in population health and health equity must respond to the needs, values, and  priorities of local communities and those most impacted.
  • Consequential: We continually evaluate our research and education endeavors to ensure that they address questions of true consequence for public health and forward social justice.

BSS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We believe that a diverse faculty and student body provides the deep and varied perspectives needed to inform research that will make a substantial and sustained impact on population health equity.