Population Health

Focusing on solutions to grand challenges

Making significant improvements in the health and well-being of populations is an audacious goal that requires tenacious, disciplined and creative work. We will maximize our impact as a University by initially directing attention and resources toward specific issues in population health, thereby allowing us to cooperatively lead efforts to address key grand challenges that we face here and around the world.

This approach will catalyze collaborations between faculty, students, staff, partners and communities to work towards inclusive, innovative and sustainable solutions. This approach will also strengthen our ability to secure the new resources needed to expand the UW’s capacity to take on these challenges in an interdisciplinary, collaborative and ethical manner.

Three initial challenges were selected because each:

  • Addresses pressing population health challenges identified by local, regional, national and international professionals and organizations.
  • Works at the intersection of the three pillars of population health: human health, environmental resilience, and social and economic equity.
  • Builds on the UW’s areas of strength in education, service, research and teaching.
  • Fosters interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Allows for the measurement and evaluation of outcomes.

The initial challenges are:

  • Nurturing brain, behavior and capability development – Achieving emotional, psychological and social well-being by growing opportunity and access, supporting motivation, self-determination and behavior change, and by improving prevention, recovery and cures for mental illnesses.
  • Bolstering healthy starts for children, adolescents and families – Addressing the health and well-being of children, beginning with a mother’s prenatal health and extending through a child’s adolescence to maximize cognitive, physical, emotional and social development.
  • Strengthening community resilience and capacity – Strengthening the interdependent institutions and systems of local, national and international communities in the context of the natural and built environment in which they exist, thereby increasing their capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from disruptions to the systems that support thriving human populations.

Individuals, families and communities

As the image illustrates, we will approach these challenges by emphasizing an ecological model-like approach to improvement of the health of human populations, from the individual, to the family or support unit, to the community in which they live and ultimately to the population as a whole.