Public Health and Political Science: Bridging the Divide

Integrating Science and Politics for Public health

“The COVID-19 pandemic more than anything else has demonstrated the urgency of embracing the complex nature of policymaking and its drivers. It is time to leave naïve allusions of the impenetrable nature and yet necessity of good policymaking behind us and argue health to policy and policy for health.” Integrating Science and Politics for Public Health

Collaborating Researchers
Evelyne de Leeuw, Paul Cairney, Carole Clavier, Emily St. Denny,  Katherine Fierlbeck, Katherine L. Frohlich, France Gagnon, Scott Greer, Ditte Heering Holt, Anita Kothari, Maureen MacDonald, Kevin McNamara, Heather Mitchell, Kathryn Oliver, Blake Poland, Katherine E. Smith, Maxwell J. Smith, Sarah Weakley 

Funded by the Government of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

The lack of a shared conceptual understanding between public health and political science has created several barriers to meaningful engagement. Perhaps most critically, a long-standing tension between the two disciplines arises from competing views about the role that politics and evidence play in public health policymaking.

In 2019, the Global Strategy Lab led a workshop that brought together international experts who work at the nexus of public health and political science to advance the integration of the two fields. The workshop conversation evolved into a book (published in 2022) that further develops the interconnection of public health and political science and provides direct examples of how these two fields can be integrated in analyses of evidence-informed public health policymaking.

This project builds on and adds to the Global Strategy Lab’s broader efforts to address the institutional barriers  to effective public health policymaking. Our public health political science initiative and our linked analysis of the roles of Chief Medical Officers of Health form part of our growing research agenda on the use of scientific evidence and advice in public health governance. Ultimately, we aim to understand how evidence can be produced and used in more democratic ways, and how institutions of representative democracy can incorporate valid scientific evidence into their decisions more effectively and systematically.


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