Embracing Collaboration: Office of Global and Community Health Partnerships
Resources for creating and nurturing more effective community engagement have been brought together under a new umbrella office at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington. Local and international partners alike can now connect with school's students, faculty and staff via the Office of Global and Community Health Partnerships.
The realignment emphasizes the continued evolution taking place at the new school, formerly the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and addresses the public health-oriented workforce development needs of rural regions in central and southern Indiana. School efforts to address critical public health issues such as violent crimes and obesity -- issues that hamper communities in Indiana and around the world -- are ongoing and expected to expand as the office makes it easier to connect the school's resources to community partners who need them.
"Our school has traditionally had deep levels of community engagement," said Michael Reece, associate dean for research. "We plan to capitalize on that, and the momentum created by the transition, to play a more integral role in reshaping the health and social services infrastructure in our communities and to make an impact on health care delivery."
The new office creates a more prominent and effective "front door" for these partnerships. These partnerships are based everywhere from Bedford, Ind. to Beijing; from Indianapolis to Egypt. Collaborators come from the National Park Service, Monroe and Lawrence county schools, the Indiana State Departments of Health and Education, and as far away as Cairo University and Seoul National University. Reece said issues such as as domestic violence, accessibility assessments and training, sexual education, and workforce development needs for local health departments are just a few of the topics these partnerships address.
The launch of this office builds on decades of engagement between the school and partners across Indiana and beyond. During the 2011-2012 academic year:
- Over 110 external partner organizations have collaborated with faculty, centers, and institutes across the school to implement more than 150 research, teaching, service and workforce development initiatives.
- Of these, 104 initiatives were community-based, with 56 percent of community-based initiatives including students as participants.
- More than 13,000 people participated in 63 continuing education events offered by the School of Public Health.
Some of the relationships go back years
"The IU School of Public Health has been an asset to rural communities in Indiana for many years by providing technical support, expertise and hands-on assistance," said Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis. "While my relationship with the school began nearly 15 years ago, its help to the City of Bedford and the entire Lawrence County community over the past few years to create strategies to address domestic violence has been tremendous. I believe that the results of this work and partnerships in our community will prove beneficial both now and for many years to come."
Numerous School of Public Health centers and faculty members also are involved with global and international collaborations addressing such topics as HIV/AIDS, sexual health and children's health.
"The team that was brought together to create the Office of Global and Community Health Partnerships represents a variety of expertise and experience. Some are good at mobilizing community partners; others have been creating campus-community partnerships for years or extending the reach of the school overseas," said Erin Cooperman, executive director of the new office. "By working together, we can draw on each other's knowledge and skills. We are not really changing what we've been doing, we're just doing it more efficiently. As a team, we can better serve both the school and our partners."