Deem awarded fellowship to develop Public Health and Human Flourishing course

Michael Deem, associate professor of human genetics, was recently awarded a Signature Course Fellowship by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Studies. A competitive national fellowship, it recognizes “distinguished or high-potential tenure-stream scholars who are developing a signature course on a topic connected to human flourishing or ethics,” and includes a $17,000 grant to develop, market and scale-up a new undergraduate course.

Deem will spend a week in 2024 and a month in 2025 at the University of Notre Dame, working with other faculty fellows to develop the course, Public Health and Human Flourishing, which will be offered at Pitt Public Health beginning in the 2025-26 academic year.

“It’s an honor to have been selected out of an international pool of researchers and university faculty,” said Deem. “The Signature Course Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to exchange format, content, and delivery ideas with faculty from across the world, and to work with experts in pedagogical design to ensure innovation and excellence in teaching.”

According to Deem, the course will examine the role that individual human well-being plays – and ought to play – in the development of public health policy, as well as the impact of such policy on individual well-being. Because public health is primarily concerned with the health of the public or populations, which is typically measured and operationalized according to disease prevalence and disparities in health across subpopulations, it is not always clear how the aggregate benefits at which public health policy aims promote, cohere with, or stand in tension with constitutive aspects of individual flourishing, including subjective and objective assessments of how well one’s life is going, individual development of one’s life plans and capabilities, and relationships and responsibilities toward others within one’s community.

“My selection for this fellowship is also a recognition of the success of Pitt Public Health’s BSPH program and its efforts to expand bioethics educational programming at the undergraduate level," said Deem. "The fellowship will contribute to the advancement of both of these school initiatives."