Scholarship in the Public Interest
The University's vision of Scholarship in Action rightfully calls our attention to pressing, real-world problems that demand rigorous analysis and workable solutions.
Public Health is exceptionally well qualified to answer this call, as the vision has been ever present in the field, which is responsible for advancements such as vaccination, motor-vehicle safety, control of infectious diseases, family planning, regulation of tobacco, fluoridation of drinking water and food-safety standards.
The values that led to those achievements are well expressed in the mission statement for the Central New York Master of Public Health Program, a key Lerner Center partner. The program strives to:
- Educate a wide variety of professionals to have the values, commitment, knowledge, and technical skills necessary to improve health;
- Advance knowledge in the public health field by developing an active program of population health research; and
- Develop community partnerships of the highest quality that benefit the health of local,state, and global populations.
"That mix of local action and rigorous evaluation - combined with a sense of our larger, global responsibilities to improve public health -is the formula we are adopting at the Lerner Center," said Director Tom Dennison. Dennison is also the associate director of the CNYMPH program, as well as the Director of the Maxwell School's Health Services Management and Policy program.
CNYMPH students and MPA students who focus on health management and policy will have significant opportunities to conduct meaningful research and work on real-world problems while working on Lerner Center programs.
Such opportunities are exactly what the MPH is all about, said Dr. Donna Bacchi of SUNY Upstate Medical University, director of the CNYMPH program.
"We want our students to apply their knowledge and skills to solve wide-ranging public health problems by translating sound research into beneficial programs and policies," Dr. Bacchi said.
Other students will have opportunities to team with the Lerner Center as well. Since public health promotion is a top priority for the Center, especially through its Healthy Monday Syracuse campaign, students at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication are sure to get a chance participate. We are currently forming partnerships that will allow that to happen. The same is true for students of the iSchool. A Healthy Monday Syracuse foursquare app, anyone?
That's not to say the Center will be setting students loose on Syracuse to use the community as a guinea pig.
"We will do nothing that the community itself does not support and find beneficial," Dennison said. "We are launching a public engagement strategy to solicit public input that will be directly used in setting our priorities. We will partner with existing community groups to carry out programming related to those priorities. And we intend to do everything in the most rigorous and professional way possible."
Students will help, for sure. But as with all effective real-world endeavors, it will be within a structure that keeps the enterprise focused on deliverable, measurable, results -- on doing good, for the public, and its health.