My work aims to understand how communities create conditions for improved health and wellbeing. Our Center’s current applied research projects include a Latino Health for All initiative in Wyandotte County (funded by NIH), a participatory evaluation of collaborative projects in diabetes self-management and prevention (funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation), and the national Healthy Communities Study to better understand how communities work to prevent childhood obesity (funded by NIH). I believe that the privileged position of university research and teaching has a corresponding duty—to share what we are learning in service to others. In addition to professional publications, we communicate practical guidance through the Community Tool Box http://ctb.ku.edu/. The CTB—now available in English, Spanish, and Arabic in mid-2013), is the world’s largest free, online resource for people working to build healthy communities. As a designated World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, we have the extraordinary opportunity to learn and contribute with superb partners in Kansas, nationally, and throughout the world. http://communityhealth.ku.edu/
Why Study at the University of Kansas
It has been and continues to be a privilege to be on the faculty in the Department of Special Education which has been consistently ranked over the last decade as one of the top two doctoral programs in the United States. I want to highlight here four factors that I think particularly contribute to the national ranking and to the Department of Special Education being an absolutely outstanding place to receive a graduate education. First, there is a research culture in which faculty and students participate on a continuous basis in the research process from the beginning point of conceptualizing research questions to conducting research to writing it up and then to translating its results for the benefit of ultimate stakeholders. Thus, students do not just take research courses but rather receive their education in the ongoing pursuit of new knowledge. Secondly, the faculty, staff, and students work together synergistically in generating grants. There is an amazing "know-how" in terms of accessing external funds, and people continually expand their expertise by learning from each other. Thirdly, faculty and staff are down-to-earth, approachable, student-centered, and helpful. Thus, it is a non-intimidating environment to push the limits of what one might think one's best is to whole new levels of growth, insight, and even wisdom. Fourthly, these departmental characteristics are situated within competent and caring university and community contexts. Thus, majoring in special education at the University of Kansas does not merely translate into quality education but, indeed, into quality of life as well.