Distinguished Lectures

To widely disseminate important public health innovations and ideas and to recognize those who pursue and advocate for critical new policies and programs, the Mailman School sponsors several prestigious lectures in the field.

The Isidore I. Benrubi Lecture in the History and Ethics of Public Health

The Isidore I. Benrubi Lecture in the History and Ethics of Public Health is an annual lecture featuring a leader in the field of public health and ethics. The lecture series was established in 2007 by the family of Isidore I. Benrubi, a physician, father, and friend. The National Endowment for the Humanities provides additional matching support. 

The Granville H. Sewell Distinguished Lecture

Named in honor of one of the School’s most revered longtime faculty members, the annual Sewell Lecture recognizes significant achievement in the area of environmental health sciences.

​Inaugurated in 1993 by the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the annual Granville H. Sewell Distinguished Lecture honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to environmental health sciences. The lecture series was established in memory of Dr. Granville Sewell, who directed the educational programs in environmental health sciences at Columbia for more than 20 years. A man who served Columbia University and society in many different ways, Sewell was internationally recognized for his great contributions in the critical area of water supply in developing countries.

Granville H. Sewell: A Profound Impact

Sewell received his BS in Civil and Sanitary Engineering and his PhD in Developmental Economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before coming to Columbia University, he was involved in economic and environmental assessments of construction projects in Jordan, Korea, Liberia, Nigeria, Panama, Turkey, Sierra Leone, and many other countries around the world. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1967 and developed a new teaching program in environmental health sciences in the early 1970s. He taught and wrote on a variety of environmental topics, including water supply and sanitation, always emphasizing the social context for environmental problems and their remedies. Dr. Sewell died in December 1992 at the age of 59, after a long and heroic battle with lung cancer.

Dr. Sewell remained active in the department until his death. His door—at the office and at home—was always opem, especially to students. Students from around the world attended his parties and dinners with great regularity and great affection for Dr. Sewell and his family.

Dr. Sewell worked tirelessly to provide students with opportunities for research and training in public health, opportunities to network with professionals in the field, and opportunities to find employment in positions that were personally fulfilling and socially important. His lectureship was created to provide an annual opportunity for students, alumni, faculty, friends, and colleagues to come together to learn, enjoy each others' company, and develop new opportunities for current and future students.