The Wisconsin site of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program has four overall goals:

  1. To provide scholars with an understanding of population health that is broad and integrative
  2. To insure that scholars understand how to translate new population health knowledge into policy and practice
  3. To provide scholars with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to become leaders in the emerging field of population health
  4. To contribute to the understanding of population health concepts at the university, state, and national levels.

The Wisconsin concept of population health is broad and integrative. We define and research the health of a population in terms of the distribution of health outcomes such as mortality and health related quality of life years. We acknowledge the importance of all categories of determinants (medical, behavioral, social, environmental, and genetic) and their interactions over the life course. We convey such a perspective to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars in this program, and add to their skills in advancing knowledge and in defining and maturing this field. After completing our program, scholars bring outstanding academic expertise regarding the multiple determinants of population health and the methods required to understand them into real world practice settings, and will have state-of-the-art knowledge and skills in population health knowledge transfer.

With the continual addition of more scholars each year, we believe that the academic community and world of practice will begin to recognize that something fundamental is taking place regarding the maturation and influence of this emerging new field of population health.

Beyond scholar contributions, program faculty and our partners in the policy community also influence the development of the field through their research, speaking, and advocacy activities. Here in Wisconsin, some of this will be achieved through the careful and mission oriented use of the Research and Training investments. At the University, several working groups we have funded are having impact far beyond the normal reaches of our Department; examples are "Interdisciplinary Research Focusing on Communities at Risk," "Transdisciplinary Perspectives in Health and Society," and "Media Representations of Health Problems." At the state policy level, grantees funded through the Research and Training mechanism have, for example, provided financial analysis for a universal coverage plan for Wisconsin, assisted in incorporating population health measures into rural hospital balanced scorecards, as well as designed a population health survey of the public. These activities build on the fourth goal of contributing to the understanding of population health concepts at the university, state, and national levels.