The Health & Society Scholars Program at Harvard University is an interdisciplinary university initiative that integrates activities from four schools, each with a national reputation for academic excellence: The School of Public Health, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Medical School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Based on a foundation of five core disciplines — social epidemiology, public policy, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience — our training program brings together some of the world’s most renowned academics in those fields.
The two-year program at Harvard is structured to provide each scholar with the following competencies:
•Knowledge of theories, research and analytical tools that integrate environmental, behavioral and biological conditions to address the determinants of population health.
•Collaborative competence, by which we mean the ability to utilize and apply shared language, methods and techniques to conduct transdisciplinary research. This competence is necessarily grounded in a historical perspective on how scientists and policymakers have conceptualized causation and determinants of health over time.
• Ability to plan effective interventions to improve population health, ranging from public policy approaches to community-based interventions.
•Understanding of life course approaches to population health research.
Current scholars have primary offices at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (HCPDS), where the program is administered. The HCPDS is located in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge. The Boston campus, where the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and affiliated hospitals are located, is a 20 minute ride across the Charles River.
Intensive training in transdisciplinary research is organized through a dual mentor approach. Each scholar is matched to one mentor from their own discipline, as well as one mentor from another area. The program is anchored by a bi-weekly seminar series drawing on faculty from each of the four Harvard schools. In addition to the seminars, the Harvard program emphasizes close contact between the program directors and scholars throughout the year. On alternating weeks, the co-directors meet collectively with the cohorts to discuss ongoing research progress and career development issues such as grant writing, managing staff, prioritizing workloads and other select topics.
Each scholar will have the opportunity and resources to start an original research project based on their interests in population health. The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies is home to a population science research platform. Studies are tightly harmonized so that critical comparisons across studies (or countries) can lead to important insights. The HCPDS also houses highly sensitive data that need to be enclaved (social security and medicare data, for instance) and has data managers and analysts available to RWJ Scholars to help in their research efforts. Scholars have access to the Research Computing Environment maintained by the Harvard-MIT Data Center that provides a full-featured user environment with a wide range of research tools and a secure virtual network computing (VNC) connection. The Harvard School of Public Health also maintains a psycho-physiology laboratory run by Dr. Laura Kubzansky (one of our RWJ core faculty members).
The co-directors of the program are Profs. Lisa Berkman and Ichiro Kawachi, both of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and associate director, Maria Glymour, also at HSPH. The program’s core faculty includes: Gail Adler, MD, PhD, co-director of the Hormonal Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Injury Laboratory and assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; Jason Beckfield, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Harvard; Jason Block, MD, Instructor, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute; Amitabh Chandra, PhD, Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government; Nancy Krieger, PhD, Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health, HSPH; Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Society, Human Development and Health, HSPH; Aaron Mauck, PhD, Assistant Professor, History of Science, Harvard; Joyce Rosenthal, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and SV Subramanian, PhD, Professor of Population Health and Geography, HSPH. An additional 40 faculty from all corners of Harvard serve as mentors and collaborators.
For more information, contact:
(This Web site will open in a new browser window.)