Community Health Education is considered the social and behavioral science wing of public health. As such, the field borrows liberally from theories and research methods developed in sociology, psychology, communications, anthropology, political theory and labor and women studies. With the rise of chronic and so-called “lifestyle” diseases, research in CHE focuses on identifying and examining influences on the actions of social groups. Human behavior is the result of a complex and dynamic interaction between agency and structure, between individual volition and social structural constraints. Because human beings are ethical creatures endowed with the capacity for acting responsibly, with dignity and integrity, at UMass Amherst, we seek to advance a methodology of understanding human behavior that falls under a family of approaches variously referred to as community-based participatory research, participatory action research, humanistic research, and hermeneutics and interpretive research.
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