August 23, 2022 – The first fully in-person Orientation week at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health since the start of the pandemic kicked off on August 22, offering new students the chance to learn about the School and its programs, start getting to know each other, and hear about some of the pressing public health issues facing the world today.
The School welcomed 703 new students from 60 countries. In opening remarks, Dean Michelle Williams outlined today’s big challenges in public health—a global pandemic, underinvestment in the social determinants of health, rampant disinformation, a failure to meet the needs of or recognize the potential in the Global South, systemic racial inequities, and climate change. Williams also discussed recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gun violence, abortion, and the environment “that will have an enormously negative impact on population health, particularly on the most vulnerable groups.”
She noted, “There is no parallel to this cascade of crises in all human history.” But she praised the incoming class’s “clarity of vision” in seeing the scale and scope of the crises and in deciding to enter the public health field. “Choosing a career in public health at this urgent juncture means you’ve decided to run toward the greatest challenges of our time,” she said.
The week’s events included a keynote address from Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership; remarks from Harvard Chan Student Association President Heather Olden; an introduction to the U.S. healthcare system from John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health leadership; campus tours; sessions on programs, departments, and the case study method at Harvard Chan School; affinity gatherings for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and First Gen students; and an ice cream social.
Photos: Kent Dayton