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Department of Behavioral Sciences & Development Studies

Behavioral Sciences is a branch of science that deals primarily with human action and often seeks to generalize about human behavior in society. It deals with any of the various interrelated disciplines, such as psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, which observe and study human activity, including psychological and emotional development, interpersonal relationships, values, and morals. Human health and illness are influenced by multiple interacting biological, psychological, social, cultural, behavioral, and economic factors. The behavioral and social sciences have contributed a great deal of research-based knowledge in each of these areas that can inform physicians' approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and patient care.

Development Studies is a multi- and inter-disciplinary field of study (i.e. not a discipline) that seeks to understand social, economic, political, technological and cultural aspects of societal change, particularly in developing countries.

  • It is characterized also by normative and policy concerns. It aims at contributing to possible solutions to societal problems that development or its absence may produce.
  • In pursuit of these objectives, Development Studies is context sensitive. It examines societal change within a historical, comparative and global perspective. It aims to take into account the specificity of different societies in terms of history, ecology, culture, technology etc. and how these differences both can and often should translate into varied ‘local’ responses to regional or global processes, and varied strategies of development and methods.
  • Development studies is a changing and evolving field of study, at present covering topics and concerns such as poverty, environmental and socio-political sustainability; women’s empowerment and gender equity, globalization, sustainable development and human development. The range of topics it covers is, however, by no means fixed as witnessed by the evolution of the focus of the field of study over the last decades, and the emergence of new topics such as development issues and poverty in the industrialized countries.
Word from Head of the Department:

Welcome to the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Development Studies! The department of Behavioral Sciences & Development studies was created as an amalgamation of two related disciplines of human behavior and development. Understanding the way in which individuals develop before birth, as babies, children and adolescents through to young and older adulthood towards death is an important part of any social work role. Being able to skillfully apply this understanding in real life practice situations is even more important, as purposeful translations of human behavior and development are at the heart of effective professional practice.

Adverse health effects can be created or exacerbated by harmful behaviors (smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and risky sexual behaviors). Similarly, psychological, social, biological, and behavioral factors have been shown to influence disease risk and illness recurrence. Such mind–body interactions and behavioral influences on health and disease are important concepts to which medical students should be exposed. Students should also graduate with an understanding of how their background and beliefs can affect patient care and their own well-being; how they can best interact with patients and their families; how cultural issues influence health care; and how social factors, such as health policy and economics, affect physicians' ability to provide optimal care for their patients.

Practicing physicians need to be skilled in the priority topics related to human behavior in the context of health. Because medical education is a continuum, it is neither necessary nor desirable for medical students to become experts in every priority topic. By graduation, however, students should be able to demonstrate competency in the six domains in the five year period of training in Medicine.

  • 1. Mind–body interactions in health and disease: Focuses on the four primary pathways of disease (biological, behavioral, psychological, and social). Students need to recognize and understand the many complex interactions among these pathways that may be compromising a patient's physical and/or mental health.
  • 2. Patient behavior: Centers on behavioral pathways to promoting health and preventing disease. Educating medical students about behaviors that pose a risk to health will better equip them to provide appropriate interventions and influence patient behavior.
  • 3. Physician role and behavior: Emphasizes the physician's personal background and beliefs as they may affect patient care, as well as the physician's own well-being.
  • 4. Physician–patient interactions: Focuses on the ability to communicate effectively, which, as noted above, is a critical component of the practice of medicine.
  • 5. Social and cultural issues in health care: Addresses what physicians need to know and do to provide appropriate care to patients with differing social, cultural, and economic backgrounds.
  • 6. Health policy and economics: Includes those topics to which medical students should be exposed to help them understand the health care system in which they will eventually practice.
Vision & Mission:
  • Vision : To be a leader in behavioral health care advancing mental health and human development in the context of social, economic, political, technological and cultural aspects of societal change that provides thought leadership and addresses frontier topics in behavioral sciences that are of critical importance, sustained interest and practical value in the academic, health, business and public policy communities in Tanzania and globally.
  • Mission : To create, disseminate and apply knowledge in the behavioral sciences and developmental studies that will lead to evidence-based solutions to practical problems facing health, businesses and governments, in both local and global contexts.
Core Values:

In pursuing its mission, the department is guided by the following core values:

  • Excellence: We seek the commitment to excellence in the education of professionals and students through clinical training and the development of academic programmes and courses.
  • Open-mindedness: We seek the promotion of research and innovative programming that occurs in an open-minded spirit of inquiry.
  • Respect: We seek to respect and honor all cultures and diversity of the people we serve, and support the viability and integrity of the communities in which they live.
  • Rigor: We seek to ensure rigor in both research and education that in turn provides a scientifically defensible and evidence-based approach to problem solving.
  • Relevance: We seek to address practical problems and issues that are relevant to effective functioning of individuals, organizations, and societies.
  • Independence: We seek to maintain independence through integrity and impartiality, with recommendations based on scientific evidence and professional conduct.
  • Service: We seek accessibility of services to the people of Tanzania, especially those who are the most ill, disadvantaged, and in need. Our obligation to the larger community through primary prevention, outreach, consultation and training activities, and through efforts to ensure collaboration and continuity of care among all service providers.
  • Impact: We seek to produce impact in academia, health, business, government and society through research, training and application that will make a significant positive difference.