Harvard University Program

The Scholars Program at Harvard University took advantage of the University's large and distinguished faculty and its numerous research centers. Faculty from the Departments of Economics, Government, and Sociology as well as the Schools of Medicine and Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School were involved with the program. The program also capitalized on the research ties between the social science faculty of the Schools of Medicine and Public Health and the teaching hospitals of the Medical School. The Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences (IQSS), housed the offices for the Scholars.  

Each Scholar, in consultation with members of the Executive Committee, developed an individualized program of study and research.  Scholars also could audit any course offered at Harvard University. The program featured special seminars for the Scholars that explored research on health policy issues by political scientists, economists, and sociologists, with an emphasis on research in progress. The Harvard program emphasized methodological excellence and sought to foster the use of the most rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods.  Scholars were strongly encouraged to attend a weekly seminar in the department of their discipline in order to develop relationships with faculty in their own fields. In addition, numerous weekly and bi-weekly seminars on topics directly related to health policy issues were held at the Kennedy School, the Medical School, the School of Public Health, and the Law School. Scholars were encouraged to attend these seminars.  Each Scholar was expected to develop and pursue one or more research projects focused on health policy questions, and to complete at least one research paper based on his or her projects while in the program. To facilitate the successful completion of this research, Scholars were given support in the form of research assistants, computers, access to data, and use of the largest library and related collection of informational resources at any university in the world. Finally, each Scholar was encouraged to have frequent, one-on-one interactions with professors familiar with the challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary research. Scholars chose mentors and collaborators from the Executive Committee and from a broad list of participating faculty.

Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., served as program director from 2002 to 2005. He was succeeded by Katherine Swartz, Ph.D., who directed the program from 2005 to 2016.