The Johns Hopkins University - Pompeu Fabra University Public Policy Center is dedicated to research and teaching in major social and public policy areas that impact social and economic wellbeing, planetary health and climate change, governance, and work and labour conditions. 

Founded in 2013, the Center is a collaboration between internationally recognised academic institutions: The Johns Hopkins University, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Pompeu Fabra University. Located on the Pompeu Fabra University campus in Barcelona, Spain, the Center is co-directed by Keshia Pollack at the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, and Joan Benach at the Department of Political and Social Science at Pompeu Fabra University.

The relationship between the institutions was initiated in the early 1990s by the then Chair of the Department of Political and Social Science and later President of the UPF, Professor Rosa Viros, and the founding director of the Center, Professor Vicenç Navarro from the Johns Hopkins University and also, at that time, from the UPF as Visiting Professor. It continues to provide a fruitful exchange of knowledge through various educational and research activities, including the Master Program in Public and Social Policies and the annual Hopkins Fall Institute, a collaboration started by the former mayor of Barcelona, Mr Pasqual Maragall I Mira, and which includes the Barcelona Public Health Agency. The Hopkins Fall Institute unites professionals from all over the world in the Pompeu Fabra campus to study intensive courses on health and social policy, and has been delivered since 2004.

Context and approach

The world is experiencing great social transformations in economy, ecology, technology, politics, culture and health, and such changes make it difficult to predict the future of humankind, even in the short term. Indeed, alongside the remarkable social and techno-scientific progress made over the last decades, complex and devastating existential threats are emerging. Humanity is now confronted with several increasingly crucial, interdependent threats and challenges to overcome, such as growing social inequality, a climatic and ecological emergency, including an energy crisis, the degradation of democratic quality and the processes of techno-social control and surveillance in many societies, together with the commodification of health, education, housing and social services (i.e. treating them as commodities that can be bought and sold), and the emergence of new pandemics and global public health problems.

Paradoxically, in the face of such extremely complex and threatening scenarios, most studies continue to evaluate these problems, and contemplate possible policy solutions, through single disciplinary perspectives and therefore narrow analyses. This often results in only a partial, fragmented understanding of such problems and their root causes, and thus limits the possibility for effective and fair political and social action. However, by integrating knowledge from diverse disciplines, and applying a critical historical and political economy approach, we can develop a better understanding of how to potentially address the crucial, intricate challenges that humanity faces.


Mission statement

The JHU-UPF Public Policy Center aims to provide critical knowledge on the most significant planetary problems and their systemic-historical causes, and help inform political decisions and policy interventions that are more effective, equitable and truly sustainable. The goal of these activities is to generate and translate knowledge, in order to create a fairer socio-political and ecological-health system for humanity. 

The JHU-UPF Public Policy Center creates, promotes and shares scientific knowledge in diverse ways: 

  • Research Projects and Articles: Studies that apply an integrated, transdisciplinary perspective to critically understand and address complex global challenges.
  • Reports: Empirical reports on the most pressing issues of our time, using an integrated historical, critical and systemic lens.
  • View Points: Opinion pieces by scholars and public figures discussing key present-day issues with a critical approach.
  • Policy Dialogues: Dialogues between scholars and/or public figures with diverse visions of the same relevant topic.
  • 2-Minute Science: Short videos to summarize some of the Center's main research findings for a broad non-specialized audience.
  • Research seminars: open seminars that offer members of the Center, postdoctoral and doctoral researchers, as well as coordinators of reports, the opportunity to share and receive feedback on their work.

  • Critical Thinking Debates: in-person debates and discussions on important philosophical, social and political issues, drawing on the analysis of given texts.

Alongside these projects, the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center also supports students and professionals to strengthen their understanding of social public and health policy issues through the Master degree in Public and Social Policies (UPF-BSM), and the annual Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) Fall Institute, both of which take place in Barcelona.

Diversity statement

The JHU-UPF Public Policy Center is committed to inclusion, diversity, equality, and equity both in its principles and in its practice. The Center recognizes that certain groups and individuals are especially marginalized and oppressed based on their class, gender, race, ethnic group, migration status, territory, or other situations of discrimination, segregation or exploitation, and that this often underlies the inequities and social challenges that the Center investigates and proposes to change. Therefore, the Center values, respects, and protects all identities, including those related to sex, gender expression and orientation, social position, ethnicity and race, disability, age, religion, marital status, and other political, economic, and cultural circumstances. The Center does not tolerate racism, sexism, classism, ableism, agism, transphobia, homophobia, or any discriminatory behavior. Instead, the Center commits to including inclusion, diversity, equity, and fairness in all aspects of its work, including research, education, knowledge transfer and dissemination, and hiring.



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