Home » A View from Kirkland HallSpring 2009

A View from Kirkland Hall

by Carolyn Dever No Comment


There is no greater challenge facing the United States than health care: the provision of affordable, high quality medical attention to every person, and the establishment of a health care system that ensures equity of access and the integrity of new discovery for all time. 

Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science is on the front lines of this challenge. Researchers from our science and social science—and yes, even our humanities—departments partner with researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and all over the globe to advance the medical sciences. As of March of this year, 307 undergraduates are enrolled in the Arts and Science program in Medicine, Health and Society, where they take courses from faculty university wide on the science, history and politics of health. This relatively new major now trails only economics and political science as the largest in our school. In 2007-2008, Arts and Science researchers were granted more than $20 million in funds for federally sponsored, health-related research. All of us in the Vanderbilt community and society at large benefit from this involvement.

Now I have the great honor to inform you of a new collaborative project involving the college. On March 5, leaders of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the birth of a partnership between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science. With the foundation’s support, Meharry will establish the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest historically black medical schools. At the core of the national center’s mission is the education of a new generation of leaders in health policy studies, leaders whose diversity reflects the full diversity of the U.S. population. 

 The College of Arts and Science plays a central role in the center’s vision. With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Meharry, we will recruit six new faculty members in sociology and economics of health to Vanderbilt. In turn, the faculty will recruit nearly 20 new graduate students in sociology and economics.

Future leaders in health policy will receive their doctoral training here at Vanderbilt in collaboration with scholars and students at the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. These students and faculty will bring the best of both campuses—Vanderbilt’s and Meharry’s—to shape health policy for generations to come. Emerging from an environment of unprecedented interpersonal and intellectual diversity, these faculty and students will broaden the discourse of health policy in the U.S. and beyond. Thanks to this vision, our society will have better answers to its most stubborn, sensitive, and, we all hope, solvable questions. 

Arts and Science is fortunate to participate in this initiative with our remarkable partners at Meharry Medical College, benefitting from the support and expertise of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Wish us luck as we break this rich, new ground.

Carolyn Dever

photo credit: Daniel Dubois

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