Jul. 09 2014

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the design consultancy IDEO welcome the Global Leadership Fellows from the World Economic Forum in a weeklong training exercise centered on improving health in New York City. From July 14-18, the fellows will collaborate across disciplines to design solutions to health challenges faced by low-income and elderly New Yorkers. This unique endeavor brings fellows versed in World Economic Forum dialogs on global health issues in Davos, Switzerland, to solve problems on the ground in New York, guided by design process specialists and health experts.

street-150x180.jpegThe World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows Program is a three-year program, including an intensive summer curriculum in leadership training, of which the weeklong program in public health is a part. The fellows, who hail from over 40 countries, bring diverse backgrounds, experience, and areas of interest. Graduates go on to top positions in business, government, and nonprofits or continue their career at the World Economic Forum.

With coaching from experts at the Mailman School and IDEO, fellows will apply design thinking to one of several health challenges. Some fellows will seek out no-cost opportunities for physical activity and ways to help families make healthier food choices; others will design a better hospital experience for older adults and shape an urban environment to be friendlier for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Along the way, fellows will conduct field research by interviewing locals and identifying opportunities for change. At the end of the week, they will present their design solutions, which could include anything from signage and social media campaigns, to a coalition of small businesses and policy recommendations.

"Tomorrow’s leaders will face challenges such as rapid global urbanization, the aging of the population, and high rates of chronic diseases that disproportionately affect low-income groups," says Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and past speaker at World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland. "This year’s program will give the Global Leadership Fellows a solid understanding of these issues and the hands-on experience of working with affected communities to solve them. I am delighted to once again teach and learn from this group."

"Public health is a crucial topic today and will become an even bigger challenge as urbanization increases across the globe," says Gilbert Probst, PhD, managing director and dean of the Global Leadership Fellows Program. "This year’s program will provide our fellows an opportunity to prove their sense of creativity and innovation, and make a contribution to find solutions in this field."

"The best way to learn the principles and methods of design thinking is to roll up your sleeves and use it," says Duane Bray, MFA, partner, IDEO. "This is exactly what we’re doing with the WEF Global Fellows—we’re taking the problem-solving tools that designers employ every day and applying it to the challenge of public health in New York City."

IDEO has extensive experience in healthcare, including medical devices and disease management, as well as interventions to promote healthy behaviors. Projects have included a birth-control support network for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; a revolutionary new way for diabetics to monitor glucose for Bayer; a program to increase the national donor base for the American Red Cross; and an initiative with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help combat childhood obesity.

It is the fifth year that the Global Leadership Fellows have come to Columbia. Previous workshops have been led by faculty at Columbia’s School of the Arts, School of Continuing Education and the Earth Institute. The Mailman School has hosted Global Leadership Fellows for the past two years, offering an introduction to themes in public health, including urbanism and climate change.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing avariety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.

About IDEO

IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. We identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires. We envision new companies and brands, and we design the products, services, spaces, and interactive experiences that bring them to life. We help organizations build creative culture and the internal systems required to sustain innovation and launch new ventures.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.