What is the one-word mission of the University of Utah? Responses typically include education, research, service, and bettering the world. While these are all related, they fail to capture the essence of our purpose as an institution: SCHOLARSHIP. Our scholarship mission can be further described as it relates to knowledge. More specifically, in the Division of Public Health, we engage in:
- Knowledge Production through use-inspired research and innovation
- Knowledge Reproduction including education and other learner-oriented activities
- Knowledge Implementation which is commonly referred to as engaged scholarship
For our mission of scholarship to be effective, we must collaborate with partners who utilize knowledge to impact the public’s health directly. Whether it is through research supported by the National Institutes of Health, engaged scholarship working with community partners, partnering with state and local health departments, or working with medical delivery systems, our role is to create, share, and support the implementation of public health knowledge. To help us build critical mass around priority disciplines, we have launched a series of thematic units within the Division of Public Health. These include:
- Office of Public Health Research
- Office of Global Public Health
- Office of Cooperative Reproductive Health
- Office of Public Health Practice
- Office of Public Health Innovation
In conjunction with our graduate degrees (MPH/MSPH, PhD in Public Health, Master of Statistics: Biostatistics Track) and certificate (Global Health, Public Health) programs, these Offices will help to define our role in the academic world. We look forward to creating other similar units as we grow and our activities mature. As we anchor efforts to our mission of scholarship, we are finding clarity in both our internal functioning as well as in our collaborations with others who engage in public health-oriented practice.
I have been impressed with the power that comes from embracing this knowledge focus. As one of our partners in India recently reflected – we can discover what works in one community, scale it to a handful of communities, create models from this knowledge that can then be implemented regionally, and then shared with the world. Indeed, our goal should be nothing less than changing the world by promoting knowledge-based movements driven by our mission of scholarship to improve health and wellbeing. Thanks to the great work of our faculty, staff, students and collaborators, this is exactly what we are doing in the Division of Public Health.
Stephen Alder, PhD