Global Learning during Harvard Week for Equity Fellows

The Equity Initiative’s Global Learning component broadens Fellows’ understanding of health and equity issues through two experiences: a weeklong immersion in a developing country outside of Southeast Asia (see related story) and a week on the campus of Harvard University. During the 2018 Harvard program, held June 2-9, Fellows engaged in dialogue with researchers and specialists in various aspects of social, economic, and health equity; strengthened skills in leadership and negotiation; and visited community organizations that serve marginalized populations.

Skills-building is an important dimension of the Equity Initiative, and Fellows continued to explore an adaptive leadership style, under the guidance of Eric Martin, a specialist in leadership development; explored approaches to negotiation with MIT professor Larry Susskind; and interacted with Harvard professor Marshall Ganz on his work in public narrative, the ways in which personal and public narratives can strengthen social movements.

Lectures and discussions over the course of the week helped Fellows deepen their understanding of the ways in which social and economic determinants affect the health of communities – even in highly developed countries. Presentations on topics such as the working poor, social justice concerns, and the challenge of scaling up health programs gave Fellows a framework in which to compare their own societies to conditions in the United States and other countries. Global health issues also were featured on the agenda, as were issues of human rights in conflict situations.

Site visits to the Cambridge Health Alliance, Victims of Violence, and the Salvation Army – all within a comparatively short distance of one of America’s most elite higher education institutions – enabled Fellows to more directly explore the ways in which American community organizations perceive the root causes of inequity and develop interventions and services in response to them.

Fellows lived in Adams House, an historic Harvard College dormitory, giving them time and space to continue the bonding that began during the Opening Retreat in March and continued during the Cuba Global Learning experience the week preceding the Harvard program.