Dr. Adam Hege joined Appalachian State University in 2015. Having earned a master’s degree at Appalachian, he said he has experienced and continues to value the university’s student-centered approach to teaching.
“Being a North Carolina native, I have always known about the importance of teaching at Appalachian – our state’s ‘teaching’ college. In many ways, it still remains that way,” said Hege, a faculty member in the Public Health (BS) degree program. “Here at App State, I interact with students in and out of the classroom on a daily basis, which is not the case at many universities.”
Other characteristics that set Appalachian apart, he said, are the small class sizes, diverse backgrounds and knowledge of faculty members, and opportunities for research and service with local organizations. Appalachian’s rural setting can expand students’ awareness about the often-overlooked issue of rural health.
“We understand that learning does not stop in the classroom, but must be applied in real-world settings,” he said.
Hege’s research focus is health disparities – why certain populations have worse health outcomes than others and what can be done to intervene. He said behavior related to health is influenced by each individual’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, but also can be vastly influenced by public policy. He infuses his research into all his classes and is developing a new course that will focus on how policy “can both create and reduce health disparities and how policy should and can serve as an effective tool for promoting social justice at the societal level.”
The ability to be a change agent for people’s health excites him, Hege said.
“I am interested in how we can modify or change laws or the way our society functions and interacts to improve health for all people. As I’ve progressed in my understanding of public health, I’ve realized that policy and the environment around us are really the driving influences behind many of our nation’s health problems,” he said.
“My hope is that my students take away that health and promoting and protecting the public’s health are critical to our society,” he said. “Each and every class session, I seek to come in with enthusiasm about the day’s topic, and I really want to inspire them on their journey throughout the educational process, but also as they transition into their future occupation or graduate studies.”