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Culture of Health: RWJF

Published on Aug 3, 2015

Alonzo Plough, vice president, research-evaluation-learning, and chief
science officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A healthy society is about more than just preventing injuries and reducing the death toll from disease. It is also about having access to safe neighborhoods and affordable housing, broadening job opportunities and reducing income inequality, designing walkable towns and fostering community cohesion. It takes multiple interventions and cross-sector partnerships to do all of that, and data to determine what is working. Analytic tools and strategies from other disciplines offer some guidance for calculating impact, as does the distinctive perspectives of those who design, implement, and benefit from public health activities. How can we devise ways to measure advances in social well-being and health in its fullest sense? What indicators will help us understand what makes a healthy society?



Healthy communities put people first, with safe housing, convenient schools and workplaces, and ready access to food, water, recreation and sustainable transportation. Rural or urban, resource-rich or impoverished, they offer opportunity and hope, and reward imagination and ingenuity. These places also foster a sense of shared purpose, perhaps sporting community centers and gardens, resource-sharing activities and microenterprise, sidewalks and bike lanes. What are the must-have features of a healthy community? How should small towns and large cities be designed in the future? What does the explosion of mega-metropolises around the world mean to health?

Aspen Institute 2014

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