New Program: Public Health for Business Leaders | News
April 27, 2022 – A new certificate program for business leaders will focus on why integrating public health considerations as a key part of their work can help people, communities and the planet, and help businesses thrive at the same time.
The program, Public Health for Business Leaders, will be offered both on campus and online. Each participant will take three 1.5-day courses: a mandatory flagship course on June 16 and 17 titled “Leader in the health-first era: A public health foundation for business success”, plus two additional courses of their choice, offered in September, October and November, on topics such as healthy buildings; workers’ health; community and population health; public health data; business sustainability, adaptation and resilience; and global health.
“For too long, you’ve had public health in one silo and business in another silo, and neither has realized the other’s important point of view,” said Richard Siegrist, senior lecturer in disaster management. healthcare, who co-leads the program with Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “Now that businesses have experienced the challenges of public health during the pandemic and realized that public health is relevant to just about every issue they face, wouldn’t it be beneficial to understand the language of public health as far as business is concerned?”
Since the start of the pandemic, business leaders have reached out to Harvard Chan School faculty members for their expertise on how to keep offices, workers, visitors and communities healthy, while maintaining the strength of their businesses. That’s what led to the creation of the new program, Siegrist said. “Our faculty gets inquiries all the time, whether it’s on climate issues, healthy buildings, diversity and inclusion, or data science,” Siegrist said. “We thought it would make sense to harness that interest in a program that business leaders can tap into.”
Each course will provide insight into how a particular focus on public health is currently practiced in business and what innovations have begun or are planned, as well as how paying attention to public health considerations helps business results.
Classes won’t be the kind “where business leaders are sitting in a classroom or on Zoom being PowerPointed to death,” Siegrist noted. “It will include either a case discussion or panels, and it will be very interactive.”
As part of the flagship course, Siegrist will present a case on a fictional manufacturing company facing declining profitability, loss of key customers, and employee unrest, all compounded by the pandemic. The case describes the efforts of a new CEO to address these challenges by steering the company toward an emphasis on various public health considerations. For example, the case describes how the CEO wants to ensure that the company’s facilities are as healthy as possible in terms of ventilation, air quality, lighting, heating and other aspects; that health and well-being are prioritized among workers; and that the company increase local hiring and investment, to ensure the health of the community as a whole.
Courses will be co-taught by public health experts and seasoned executives. “It’s a collaboration, so you get an exchange of ideas,” Siegrist said. “It’s not us public health experts telling business leaders what they need to know is that both are informing the other.”
Learn more about the Public Health for Business Leaders program, including course details and registration information.