Department of Health and Human Development

An older adult and a younger adult practice health exercises

Who We Are

The Department of Health and Human Development (HHD) blends health promotion, wellness, and exercise physiology with applied developmental science and evidence-based practices to address 21st century problems in diverse regional, national, and global real-world contexts. Interdisciplinary professionals in HHD apply recommended and equitable practices to promote the health and development of all children, youth, and adults. We place a special emphasis on those who are most vulnerable (e.g. at-developmental risk, with disabilities, and/or with chronic medical conditions). We assess, prescribe, teach, and supervise programs that focus on improving health-fitness and clinical outcomes, human performance, and healthy lifestyle behaviors. We collaborate with community partners in education, healthcare, wellness, and human service settings to provide health promotion and developmental supports. 

Our interdisciplinary emphasis enables emerging professionals to become effective leaders by fusing strategies in health and developmental science to address real-world inequities and health challenges through effective interdisciplinary collaboration. Our work is rooted in applied research and implementation and improvement science but is informed by principles of social justice, individual potential, equity, and inclusion for all. 

What We Do

Pitt School of Education HHD professionals are leaders who enhance wellness across the lifespan by fusing expertise in applied developmental science and health.  HHD professionals…

  • Foster effective leadership, development, wellness, and health promotion through an equity lens
  • Apply real-world research to design innovative interventions to help all children, youth, adults, and families, especially those who are most vulnerable or face health challenges and life-style challenges
  • Deliver their clinical expertise with superior expertise in evidence-based practice and social justice
  • Examine the needs for changes in systems and contexts to help all citizens within urban, suburban, and rural settings to thrive
  • Create evaluations and interventions that address structural inequalities to well-being in everyday life settings and routines
  • Provide practical and innovative methods of academic training focused on the improvement of health outcomes, reduction of risk factors, and enhanced quality of life through improved physical activity and lifestyle behaviors
  • Engage in community-engaged practice partnerships to blend research and practice to positively impact the lives of individuals and programs in the community  
  • Collaborate with policy-makers and government leaders to incorporate developmental and health-focused thinking into decision-making about policies, regulations, and supportive services

Who You Will Become

Pitt School of Education HHD students will embrace the primacy of developing responsive relationships with faculty and community partners as the basis for personal growth, networking, and career success.  As students, you will become…

  • Future leaders in your chosen specializations by modeling ethical behavior and equitable professional practices
  • Committed professionals in Exercise Science, Health and Wellness Promotion, and Physiology (e.g. wellness, exercise prescription, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, sports performance, prevention of chronic disease)
  • Specialized professionals in Applied Developmental Psychology with competencies in both applied service and applied research (e.g. children with special healthcare needs-child life, behavioral health, infant mental health, child and youth development, program evaluation, early childhood intervention)
  • Researchers who inform recommended practices for promoting health and development
  • Faculty who educate the next generation of health and development professionals
  • Committed professionals who understand the importance of enlightened public policies
  • Engaged professionals who use social and political advocacy as a tool for ensuring the human rights of our most vulnerable citizens

Supported Academic Programs

Our HHD Community Partners

The faculty of HHD have numerous community partners who play very important roles in the lives of our students and our professional lives for internships, service, research, and advocacy.  We recognize some of the most enduring ones:

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools
  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  • 47 Allegheny County School Districts
  • Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center
  • Pennsylvania Training & Technical Assistance Network (PATTAN)
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education
  • The LEND Center at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Homewood Children’s Village
  • Alliance for Infants and Toddlers, Inc.
  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Pace School
  • Propel Schools
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU)#3
  • Education Law Center
  • The Arc of Pennsylvania
  • Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST)
  • The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh
  • Child’s Way
  • Our Clubhouse
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Sarah Heinz House
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
  • The Fred Rogers Company

Related Outreach and Collaboration

Department Faculty

Thomas Farmer (Chair)

Kelliann Davis (Associate Chair)

Elizabeth Nagle (Associate Chair)

Thomas Akiva

Sirry Alang

Heather Bachman

Stephen Bagnato

April Chambers

Kevin Crowley

Laura Fonzi

Brian Galla

Robert Gallen

Ben Gordon

Anne Hays

Mary Margaret Kerr

Christopher Kline

Diana Knoll

Bridget Lee

Carli Liguori

Kevin McLaughlin

Esohe Osai

Xu Qin

Sharon Ross

Sally Sherman

Carma Sprowls-Repcheck

Ming-Te Wang

Shannon Beth Wanless