The Institute for Holistic Health Studies

A Message from the Director

Adam Burke Reforms in education will be essential to prepare students for work and leadership in an increasingly complex, changing, interdependent global environment. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 90 million Americans live with chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. These illnesses account for 70% of deaths annually, significant disability, and a reduced quality of life. Given the increase in such diseases due to aging populations, migration, and lifestyle choices, new and creative approaches to health promotion need to be examined. A Holistic Health Studies curriculum can provide a compelling resource in this regard. National surveys show a significant and persistent increase in the adoption and use of 'alternative' health perspectives and practices. Yet despite this growth, higher education provides limited exposure to, or training in, this important area. Teaching students practical preventive self-care concepts and skills provides a useful foundation for personal well-being and professional development as future healthcare providers. In addition, 21st century public health problems are increasingly global in scope, such as the health impact of climate change or the overuse of antibiotics. Integrating holistic perspectives into modern public health will contribute cross-cultural, global, and systems-oriented ideas and tools to these problems, making it a useful addition to comprehensive public health training

A central goal of the Holistic Health Studies program at San Francisco State University is to bring a holistic perspective to the understanding of health, disease prevention, and treatment. A holistic perspective recognizes the interdependence of thoughts and feelings, bodily processes, consciousness, physical environment, culture, society and other critical factors, as contributors to health and illness. It seeks to empower individuals to be responsible for their health while recognizing the significance of other social forces. Learning practical self-care concepts and skills is a core element of the program, used to promote understanding and long-term benefits. Through a comprehensive offering of courses our students are exposed to the healing traditions of cultures from around the globe, both ancient and modern, embedded within the context of general education principles of critical thinking, writing proficiency, and multicultural awareness. Through the integration of theory, practical application, and personal practice, these ideas become part of a deeper understanding of how we can heal ourselves and our planet.

We hope you can join us - take a Holistic Health Studies class at SFSU, promote the adoption of similar courses in your educational institution, advocate for healthier lifestyles in your community, support our ongoing research and outreach. Be well!


Adam Burke, PhD, MPH, LAc

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