This is our seventh annual “Notes from the Field” issue of Advances, where we profile the SPH students who are working abroad on the hands-on component of their graduate studies—the field experience. As you’ll read in the pages ahead, our students are engaged in helping to find solutions to some of the thorniest health issues facing our world today. And they are doing so in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations and other locally based groups that help the students connect with the communities they’re serving.
Our cover photo comes from Molly Emerick, a student in our Environmental Health Sciences program who did her field work in India. The young girl pictured lives in the slums of Mumbai, as do all of her schoolmates. Molly was charged with launching a school-based program to decrease malnutrition, a formidable obstacle in not only the health of the children but also in their ability to attend school and to learn. If this pilot project goes well, it could be replicated in other schools throughout India.
Apropos to our global-themed magazine, I am writing this column on a flight to India, where I—along with other University of Minnesota colleagues—will meet with health leaders outside of Bangalore to advance partnerships aimed at training workers in a host of clinical and public health practices.
The work our school is doing in Minnesota, our country, and around the world, fulfils the promise of the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. Federal legislation granted each state tens of thousands of acres of land to help fund institutions of higher learning. The bill’s sponsor, Vermont Congressman Justin Smith Morrill, and others envisioned the act as a way to assure that education would be available to all people, regardless of social class.
As we embark on a relatively new era of global health, I think it’s important to keep this nearly 150-year-old land-grant mission in mind. We continue to be a university strongly connected to our home state and its people. But we are also a university that is increasingly committed to advancing the education and wellbeing of all people, everywhere.
Yours in health,
John R. Finnegan, Jr., PhD
Assistant Vice President for Public Health
Dean and Professor