This spring, as Baltimore erupted in anger, violence and grief after the tragic death of Freddie Gray, we at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health pledged to enhance our engagement with our city. Our efforts have drawn on the incredible strengths of our School. Public health has the tools and the focus to understand the source of inequity and discontent–including racism, economic disadvantage, social inequity and policing strategy–and to develop transformative solutions.
Johns Hopkins President Ron Daniels is leading the University's robust response to the challenges of Baltimore. These efforts include partnerships with Baltimore City Public Schools on curricula and teacher training, faculty research focused on Baltimore's most persistent challenges and HopkinsLocal, a program across the University and health system to increase local hiring and contracting. And the Urban Health Institute—which brings together the resources of Johns Hopkins with Baltimore partners to improve the city's health and well-being—is leading a range of efforts to support local communities.
At the School, we are engaged deeply and broadly in Baltimore. Among other major initiatives, our faculty, staff and students have helped the city achieve major reductions in teen pregnancy and infant mortality, implement innovative and successful programs to reduce gun violence, expand healthy food options across the city and distribute thousands of car seats, smoke detectors and bike helmets. The School enthusiastically supports the Student Outreach Resource Center, known as SOURCE, a nationally recognized, award-winning community engagement and service-learning center. Last year, through SOURCE, 1,350 public health, nursing and medical students assisted 87 local agencies and community-based organizations in Baltimore, contributing more than 24,000 volunteer hours.
The events of the spring led all of us to ask ourselves what more we can do to support our city. To that end, major initiatives are underway across the School to strengthen our engagement with Baltimore.
Our School, along with the School of Nursing, is investing in a major expansion of SOURCE activities beginning January 1; this expansion will involve more students and local organizations in joint efforts. In addition, each department and office at the School has adopted a Baltimore mission statement, identified its ongoing projects and developed a special initiative at the leadership level. New projects range from small grant programs to support partnerships between faculty and local organizations to local students in our laboratories for summer projects. I am also pleased that students have reconstituted a group called SPARC devoted to calling attention to injustices and improving health in Baltimore. To learn more about these initiatives, visit the department and office project pages on the left.
Our efforts are a work in progress. In collaboration with our community, with others across Johns Hopkins and the City of Baltimore, we will pursue health and justice with humanity and humility. This essential work is at the core of our School’s mission: Protecting Health, Saving Lives–in Baltimore.
Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH '87
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health