In the wake of professor Elizabeth Bradley’s GRD ’96 election as the eleventh president of Vassar College, Yale is abuzz with talk of how to handle this transition and fill the vacuum of leadership left in her absence. For many years at Yale, professor Bradley has championed Global Health Studies, including her work establishing the undergraduate Global Health Scholars program in 2009. With her support, the undergraduate program has grown to provide many students with opportunities to pursue global health at a high level. It has already produced leaders in the field, provided the resources for important work and enticed incoming freshmen into global health.
I write this column on behalf of my fellow Global Health Scholars to advocate for the preservation of our program at Yale. As an author of the Yale College Council’s upcoming report on Multidisciplinary Academic Programs, I’m well aware that these programs are particularly sensitive to changes in leadership and administrative support. With the departure of a lauded advocate, students and faculty in global health are determined to see Bradley’s legacy preserved — the core courses, engaged faculty and the support for invaluable summer fellowships.
Yale’s graduates have a reputation for their achievements in public service and humanitarian fields. This high level of civic engagement is a badge of honor for alumni and students alike, and proof that our education does not have to distract us from our responsibility. In a time when our nation’s commitment to the global community is in question, it is more important than ever that leading universities like Yale do not turn away from the world’s health needs. Global health leaders are increasingly important in our ever-changing world, and the graduates of Global Health Studies will carry Yale’s banner as committed supporters of international health and well-being.
Global Health Studies epitomizes Yale’s focus on the liberal arts. It emphasizes interdisciplinary studies, bringing students together from departments as diverse as Psychology, Biology, Global Affairs and History. It is also fundamentally different from any other programs of study offered at Yale. Its core and elective courses are the highlights of Global Health Scholars’ academic experiences and are in increasing demand from the general student body. Supporting these faculty remains vital to ensuring that students are prepared to enter the many subfields of global health. In these courses, the Global Health Scholars have learned to write effective policy briefs, developed a critical eye for global health statistics and literature and written for publication in influential, peer-reviewed academic journals. This program has provided education opportunities critically important to Yale students, allowing them to pursue projects that rest at the crux of civic engagement and personal passion. Through these opportunities made possible by the Global Health Studies program, we have formed a wealth of long-term connections both domestically and internationally that will benefit the Yale community for years to come.
Global health is not a financially lucrative field. Its value lies in using connections, both institutional and personal, and human capacity-building to make the world a better place. The enthusiasm of the younger Global Health Scholars holds promise for the future of Global Health Studies at Yale. On behalf of the current Global Health Scholars and the countless more who will come after, I reassert our passion for this field of study and our commitment to this program’s preservation and continued expansion. Global health workers do not turn away from the child dying from a vaccine-preventable disease, the son who must skip school to work because his father is too ill or the woman whose cognitive development was stunted by child malnutrition. We ask that Yale will not turn away from them, either. Professor Bradley has been a constant support for the program, advocating for Yale’s global health community for more than a decade. In addition to her groundbreaking research, she has mentored hundreds of undergraduates who will carry the mantle into the future. We call upon Yale to continue its support for the next generation of leaders and standard-bearers in global health after professor Bradley leaves by preserving global health course electives and the Global Health Scholars program.
Joseph Cornett is a senior in Davenport College. He is in the Global Health Studies program. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .