Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine: Universities’ Vital Role in the Pandemic Response

COVID-19 Special Edition

n 1915, a year before the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health launched, William T. Sedgwick—one of Hopkins’ earliest PhDs and an elder statesman of epidemiology—wrote that if the new school was to distinguish itself in the firmament of higher education and public health, it had to “keep in vital contact with the traditions, customs and spirit of American Democracy.”

Three years later, Johns Hopkins—and other universities like it—got their chance to make good on this aspiration. When a deadly flu pandemic overwhelmed the world, academic researchers and clinicians chased the virus down in laboratories, treated it in army camps and cities, and advised health officials at all levels of government. The modern research university had truly made contact with democratic life in ways that advanced human flourishing.

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