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Off the Beaten Path

Nikki GiovanniBloomberg School students hear from poets, lobbyists and everyone in between.


Last year, the Bloomberg School hosted 1,400 events, including symposia, seminars, and lectures—all rich opportunities outside the classroom for students to learn.

This year, Nikki Giovanni opened the ever-provocative Fall Policy Seminar Series. The endearingly outspoken poet served up “An American Perspective” to a capacity crowd in the auditorium at Hampton House, reading from her work and sharing the point of view of a 70-year-old black woman/native Tennessean/lung-cancer-surviving writer.

“Nik”—that’s how she refers to herself—chatted about her tattoo, Tupac, hip hop, Dolly Parton, and game shows—and not so much about public health, per se, except to embolden researchers in the audience to get out and talk about their work.

“The students here get plenty of epi and infant mortality,” says Dan Morhaim, MD, who invited Giovanni to speak at the Bloomberg School. “The goal of the Annual Fall Policy Seminar Series is to bring in things off the beaten path.”

An associate faculty in Health Policy and Management and a Maryland state legislator, Morhaim has organized the noon lecture series (with a free lunch) for a dozen years. He aims for a diverse agenda, putting together programs that range from sobering (human trafficking and sex slavery) to rowdy. “Last year’s ObamaCare vs. RomneyCare event drew a big crowd,” Morhaim recalls. “That was a hoot.”

His perennial favorite: The Lobbyist Panel. Morhaim likely will open this year’s event (scheduled for October 17) with a question: “Are these scum-sucking bottom feeders, or essential advocates in the machinery of democracy?” 

2013 Annual Fall Policy Seminar Series

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