A view of 121South Main Street. Photo by Ken Zirkel.

Dear Colleagues,

The largest public health crisis in a century makes this a moment to recast and reinvigorate public health. At the Brown University School of Public Health, we are uniquely able to do so. We bring bold thinking and fearless research to this pandemic and to issues central to our school, and, importantly, we make clear the significance of public health in our community, our country, and around the globe.

Our field tackles complex problems, from how systemic racism shapes the lives and health of so many of our fellow Rhode Islanders and Americans, to the health challenges created by climate change. These are deeply rooted public health problems but they are not solely public health problems. Engaging with scholars in other fields makes our work better and more effective.

The impact of our research is also seen in how we train the next generation of public health leaders. This training has to be multidisciplinary and lifelong. We are all students, and our commitment to our current and future alumni is that we will continue to engage and work together for years to come, recognizing that the knowledge that underlies public health is rapidly changing, and we must all commit to refreshing and updating our knowledge.

“This is a time for us to be bold and ambitious. We must leverage the strengths of our university and engage deeply in our local community at Brown, in Providence, and across Rhode Island.”

Beyond advancing how we train leaders in public health, we must also address who we train. This means a commitment to substantially expanding the diversity of our students so that the next generation of public health leaders are far better equipped to understand and tackle some of the biggest public health problems.

Finally, at a time when there is a massive hunger for public health education, we need to create new opportunities for teaching a global audience and to think creatively about how to provide that education across boundaries and on new platforms.

Reflecting our engagement across disciplines and fields, and among our students, faculty and alumni at a key moment for public health, this issue of Continuum is devoted to the pandemic. Members of our School and the larger Brown community share their experiences and lessons learned as they drive impactful projects in the response, be it as researchers, doctors, or public health practitioners.

This is a time for us to be bold and ambitious. We must leverage the strengths of our university and engage deeply in our local community at Brown, in Providence, and across Rhode Island. If we are willing to do that—to think beyond our walls, to be bold, and to take risks, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Sincerely,
Ashish K. Jha, M.D., MPH
Dean, School of Public Health