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The role of schools of public health: Learning from history, looking to the future

Evans, David


David Evans
Professor in Health Services Research


There is a broad consensus on the need for high-quality public health education and research to tackle the world's many public health challenges. Public health education and research are delivered by a variety of institutions operating very different models, which collectively can be called schools of public health. Given the importance of education and research to public health systems, it is surprising how little research has been done to assess the role of schools of public health in contributing to population health. In particular, it is notable there has been very little research on the strengths and weaknesses of the different models of schools of public health that have evolved over the last 100 years. Thus, a historical perspective is crucial. To date most historical work has focused on US schools of public health. Although the evidence is patchy, a global overview of the history of schools of public health identifies three important themes: capacity building, multidisciplinarity and balancing teaching and research. Newer challenges and opportunities include addressing the impact of climate change and developments in e-learning. Schools of public health have the potential to make a central contribution to progress in public health practice in the twenty-first century.


Evans, D. (2009). The role of schools of public health: Learning from history, looking to the future. Journal of Public Health, 31(3), 446-450.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2009
Journal Journal of Public Health
Print ISSN 1741-3842
Electronic ISSN 1741-3850
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 3
Pages 446-450
Keywords schools, public health, history, future
Public URL
Publisher URL