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Important Update:

UCO has transitioned to virtual instruction until the end of the semester, Nov. 30-Dec. 23. The campus is open until Winter Break begins Dec. 23. Offices are staffed and many services are still offered in person, as well as virtually. COVID-19 protocols remain in place. Masks are required on campus when around others. If you or someone you know has COVID-19 symptoms, has been directly exposed to COVID-19 or has tested positive, fill out UCO's COVID-19 Self-Reporting form. To learn more about current operations, view the university's coronavirus webpage. View a list of UCO's virtual services.


University of Central Oklahoma (405) 974-5238 Kinesiology & Health Studies WAH 12 , Box 189


Sunshine Cowan, PhD, MPH, MCHES® is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) where she coordinates the Community/Public Health program.

Classes Taught

Dr. Cowan teaches numerous classes in the undergraduate public health program as well as the graduate program. Classes include but are not limited to: Introduction to Public Health, Human Development, Media Advocacy & Health Communication, Health Assessment & Evaluation, Community Intervention, and Health Equity. Dr. Cowan also works with practicum students, interns, and serves on thesis committees and graduate projects.

Education and Certifications

Dr. Cowan holds a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in Environmental Science with a focus on environmental justice. Her dissertation focused on the public housing controversy in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. She has an MPH in Health Promotion Science from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.S. in Community Health from UCO. She is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®).

Professional and Community Involvement

Dr. Cowan's research focuses on health equity, and she was one of five faculty in Oklahoma recognized as a 2013 DaVinci Institute Fellow for promoting innovative teaching practices in the classroom that included meaningful community work. Ongoing projects incorporated into her coursework include: data collection and interventions with seniors and families served by the Oklahoma City Housing Authority; focus groups among people served by the Homeless Alliance Day Shelter; data collection among the Hispanic community for INTEGRIS hospital; and food desert observations between zip codes. Additional student research projects have included PhotoVoice projects among daily riders of public transportation in the metro, with people experiencing homelessness, and in zip codes to address inequities. 

Dr. Cowan is a founding board member of the Oklahoma Health Equity Network (OHEN), is the immediate Past President of the Oklahoma Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (OAHPERD), and is a former President of the Oklahoma Public Health Association (OPHA).

The views expressed by UCO faculty and staff on their personal websites and social media pages do not necessarily reflect the positions of the University of Central Oklahoma. UCO faculty and staff are advised to follow the university’s social media guidelines and are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with policies outlined in UCO’s Employee Handbook and/or Faculty Handbook.