Lerner Center Strategic Plan, 2018-2019


To improve population health through applied research and evaluation, education, engaged service, and advocating for evidence-based policy and practice change.


To be a nationally recognized institution for rigorous population health research, community engagement, and student training.

The Lerner Center is guided by the principals of community engagement, partnership and collaboration, aligned goals, and sustainability. The Center embodies The Maxwell School’s spirit of active, engaged, and respectful citizenship by providing the foundation for respectful community engagement and facilitating dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders to improve understanding of health concerns, priorities, and strategies. The intersection of community and health is complex, requiring a range of disciplines including private and public partners to build and sustain an environment that values and promotes health for all residents.

The Center works in partnership with students, researchers, community organizations, and the public to identify needs, develop programming, and deploy collaborative initiatives. The Maxwell School provides a rich framework for the Lerner Center to address some of society’s most pressing issues while simultaneously encouraging civic-minded discourse and the creation of wide ranging policies and practices that can improve population health.

Community Engagement
The Lerner Center was designed to prominently feature the Healthy Monday campaigns. We have paralleled the campaigns with community health initiatives, earning local, state, and national attention and a reputation as an objective convener and facilitator on community health and development issues and initiatives. The Center maintains its commitment to the Healthy Monday Campaigns, durable community partnerships and respectful resident engagement, while also strategically implementing high-impact research initiatives on local, regional, and national population health challenges.

A1 Maintain and build upon our existing vibrant health promotion programming on the Syracuse University Campus and in the community.

  • A1.1: Build upon the Healthy Monday Campaigns by collaborating with the National Healthy Monday organization and our sister Lerner Centers at Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities to support existing and new initiatives, especially as they relate to the health benefits of social connection and civic engagement.
  • A1.2: Maintain existing and develop new community partnerships to advance the Healthy Monday Campaign agendas.
  • A1.3: Continue to collaborate with and support SU’s wellness initiatives.

A2 Support local public health institutions’ and systems’ plans to improve community health.

  • A2.1: Serve as a neutral convener and facilitator on pressing local community health issues.
  • A2.2: Maintain existing and establish new durable partnerships on campus and in the local community.
  • A2.3: Serve as an advisor to and support the research and evaluation efforts of local community health initiatives like the Transforming Communities Initiative and NorthsideUP women’s wellness project.

A3 Collaborate with university and community partners to conduct and disseminate research on health issues that are relevant to the local community.

  • A3.1: Work with Maxwell’s XLab to design and conduct research on the Healthy Monday campaigns and other local community health interventions.
  • A3.2: Seek out and apply for external research/evaluation funding in collaboration with local community partners to research health issues of mutual interest and benefit.
  • A3.3: Communicate the relevance and benefits of conducting local applied health research to university faculty and graduate students.
  • A3.4: Invite community partners to participate in the Center’s new research initiatives, including the Population Health Mini-Conference and Population Health Seminar Series.

A4 Formally disseminate population health research findings to scholars, the public, community organizations, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

  • A4.1: Initiate an online publicly-accessible Population Health Research Brief series devoted to disseminating results from research and evaluation related to the Healthy Monday Campaigns as well as other local, state, regional, and national population health issues.
  • A4.2: Publish our research findings in high-impact peer-reviewed journals.
  • A4.3: Present our research findings at local community forums, at state, national, and international outlets, and to policymakers.
  • A4.4: Reorganize the Center’s website to more prominently feature the findings from our research and evaluation projects.

The Maxwell Student Experience
With an eye toward making contributions to their communities, students within Maxwell and the university at large seek careers with meaning and purpose. The Lerner Center aims to offer these students a distinctive experience that combines training in applied population health research and community engagement to address pressing local, regional, and national health problems.

B1 Create distinctive student experiences combining training in applied population health research and community engagement that helps build knowledge, expertise, and commitment to improving population health.

  • B1.1: Host and provide financial assistantships and professional training and development to graduate students as Lerner Fellows.
  • B1.2: Teach undergraduate and graduate courses, seminars, and workshops on population health issues.
  • B1.3: Mentor graduate students on population health subject matter, community engagement principals and strategies, research methods, and professional development.

B2 Partner with academic units to integrate population health theories, principles, research, and application into their learning experience.

  • B2.1: Identify opportunities for engaging with Maxwell’s undergraduate students through mutually beneficial service learning projects.
  • B2.2: Partner with Maxwell faculty to enhance the school’s course offerings in population health.
  • B2.3: Partner with other academic units to work toward a graduate-level certificate program in Population Health and Aging that can be combined with Maxwell’s existing graduate degree programs.

Multidisciplinary Discovery
Improving population health requires skills and expertise from a range of academic disciplines and community sectors, including private and public partners. The Lerner Center has strong community partnerships and expertise in community health evaluation. We will build upon these strengths by expanding our multidisciplinary research portfolio and formalizing multidisciplinary linkages within the Maxwell School and University.

C1 Create more opportunities for collaborating on population health research, external funding, and student training by building upon and nurturing synergies among health scholars and allied centers and institutes at Syracuse University and neighboring institutions with diverse expertise in population health subject matter, data and methods, and dissemination strategies.

  • C1.1: Initiate a Lerner Center Research Affiliate program and invite SU faculty, research staff, and graduate students with demonstrated commitments to applied population health to become affiliates.
  • C1.2: Hold a Population Health mini-conference, which will serve as a conduit for connecting SU and neighboring university scholars across multiple colleges and departments, sharing information about expertise and services available within SU research centers, and building multidisciplinary population health research teams that can successfully compete for external research funding.
  • C1.3: Initiate a quarterly Population Health Seminar Series on current and emerging population health issues, featuring scholars from multiple departments and colleges at SU and neighboring universities.
  • C1.4: Coordinate and seek feedback and buy-in for our research initiatives (e.g., mini-conference, research brief series, seminar series) with SU departments, centers, and institutes.
  • C1.5: Seek out opportunities for cross-institute trainings for the Lerner graduate fellows.

C2 Facilitate multidisciplinary applied population health research and dissemination.

  • C2.1: Support SU faculty research by funding at least two Faculty Fellows to conduct and disseminate applied research related to the Healthy Monday campaigns and our key strategic priority areas of diet and nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use, substance misuse, stress reduction, and mental health.
  • C2.2: Recruit SU faculty, research staff, and graduate students to summarize the findings of their research for publication in our Population Health Research Brief series.