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Health Policy Analysis Webinar Series Brings Together Global Health Policy Scholars


When COVID-19 shut down much of society across the world in early March 2020, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) sought a way to start a dialogue on global health policy research, an area of public health that was critically important as governments around the world were seeking answers on how to stop the pandemic’s spread and impact while addressing a growing economic crisis.

Thus, the Health Policy Analysis Webinar Series was launched in April 2020 with the aim of holding research and policy discussions around global health policy issues in a way that encourages dialogue on different issues, is open to researchers at all career stages, and can connect those from all over the world with an interest in health policy analysis. Originally only held virtually due to the pandemic, the series continues to be held solely online, which allows it to remain accessible to those who otherwise might not be able to attend in person, broadening the scope of discussions and allowing for a more diverse array of voices.

The series is the brainchild of Jeremy Shiffman, PhD, MA, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School and at SAIS. “We wanted to provide opportunities for researchers, especially doctoral students and junior faculty, to share work that connects to global health policy and get feedback from others working in that space,” says Shiffman.  

Currently in its fourth year, the series has spanned a wide range of global health topics, including COVID-19 policy, violence against women and children, nutrition policy, child health, and global tobacco policy. Speakers have presented and sought feedback on issues pertaining to the quality of global health governance (such as the role of the European Union), decolonizing global health, and efforts to address specific diseases (such as tuberculosis, polio, and neglected tropical diseases).

Miranda Bain, a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School who provides organizational support to the series, has found the series particularly helpful for early-career researchers such as herself to get valuable feedback that can inform their work. “As a student at the Bloomberg School, having a space to discuss policy that has a huge impact and talk about big picture issues has been hugely helpful. I see a lot of students coming to the webinars and it has been a very rich experience and place to learn,” says Bain.

So far, the series has not only connected researchers within the Johns Hopkins community—such as SAIS and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics—but has also provided a network for institutions from all over the world. The emphasis in each webinar is on discussion—in the hour-long sessions, speakers only have about 15 minutes to present, and the remainder of the time is focused on feedback and dialogue. Speakers are encouraged to share work that is in progress, where they can gain insight and make adjustments before their research is published.

The fields of global health policy and health policy analysis are emerging, unlike epidemiology or tuberculosis, which are already established fields of research. The health policy analysis webinar series serves as a platform to bring researchers together to talk about scholarship in progress. The series spans the spectrum in terms of stage of career: doctoral students, junior faculty, and senior scholars all present their work.

Upcoming sessions in the webinar series will feature sustainable donor transition and health systems strengthening in Uttar Pradesh. Interested participants can register for each session or reach out to Miranda Bain to join the Health Policy Analysis listserv and receive more information on the webinar series.