Letter From the Dean

Future Focus

November 6, 2023
Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH

The COVID-19 pandemic made visible the paramount importance of public health science, policy, and practice. Our School responded quickly, as we have long led in strengthening public health capabilities for pandemic prevention and response. However, even as our world has ever-growing needs for public health knowledge and practice, the challenges to taking action have risen, with increasing misinformation about issues such as vaccines, and heightened politicization surrounding public health’s efforts to protect people from illness and disability.

We must better communicate the critical need for prevention science and develop effective health solutions that achieve the core responsibility of public health: to keep people from becoming ill in the first place. Our School has long been committed to providing cutting-edge education on prevention science, while also building programs for 21st-century challenges, such as climate change and mental health. We work diligently to determine how to increase health itself at every age and stage of our now-longer lifespans.

This year’s cover story (Reimagining Public Health Education for the 21st Century) explores our innovative, interdisciplinary educational programs, which have continually evolved to prepare professionals to succeed in today’s complex public health landscape throughout their careers. A few examples: More than a decade ago, our prescient leadership resulted in the first masters and doctoral degree programs focused on the health impacts of climate change. And in recent years we have built specialized education on food systems and health, health communications, and population mental health.

Our degree and non-degree programs—whether in-person or online, full time or part time—help learners make a transformative difference in population health. We deeply appreciate our partners who provide scholarship aid—in many cases enabling our fabulous students to graduate without debt and pursue meaningful careers in public service. (Read about some of our supporters in The Party of the Century.)

Columbia University recently welcomed its new president, distinguished economist Minouche Shafik, PhD, who has served in senior leadership roles across multiple sectors. We share in her belief that “Education is the foundation on which a just society is built and ... the best way to make sure that all of the talents in our society flourish to everyone’s benefit.”

With thanks for your partnership and wishing you good health,

Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH

Featured in the 2023-2024 issue of Columbia Public Health Magazine