The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) is a multidisciplinary academic department dedicated to understanding and improving the health behaviors and social contexts that most strongly impact population health and well-being. Our work has a particular emphasis on marginalized and vulnerable populations, both domestically and globally. Our research, training, mentoring, and educational activities synergistically support this mission.

Through the School of Public Health’s cutting-edge research centers, BSS faculty, fellows, and students conduct multidisciplinary public health research across the translational spectrum. This work spans from qualitative research to observational and laboratory-based studies to projects that develop, evaluate, implement, and disseminate interventions to promote healthier behaviors and environments. Areas of focus for research in BSS include:

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


The Department offers courses of study leading to Master of Science (ScM) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences. BSS faculty members also teach and advise Brown University undergraduates and train postdoctoral fellows from a variety of disciplines including psychology, medicine, nursing, sociology, and public health.


Core Values

The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences holds that:

  • Collaboration, free and respectful exchange of ideas, proactive community engagement, and a commitment to social justice are cornerstones of innovative scholarship that has a positive societal impact.
  • Research to achieve gains in population health and health equity requires input from multiple perspectives and disciplines, including the perspectives of local communities and stakeholders.
  • Integration of education, training, mentoring, research, and public health advocacy invigorates our scholarship and effectively builds the next generation of public health scholars and practitioners.
  • Inclusivity and diversity of students, faculty, and staff are necessary to provide a truly outstanding education and to forward innovative, creative and equitable solutions to pressing public health challenges.

BSS Diversity & 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.