Lowell Levin, MPH, DEd

Professor Emeritus of and Lecturer in Public Health (Health Policy)

Departments & Organizations

School of Public Health: YSPH Global Health Concentration

Biography

Lowell Levin was Emeritus Professor of Public Health at Yale University. His research and work as a consultant throughout the world often challenged established public health beliefs and practices. Committed to health promotion, in the 1960s he pioneered the citizen participation movement, focusing on health communication and the social and behavioral factors affecting health (Self-Care: Lay Initiatives in Health, 1976). In the 1970s and early 1980s, with the first publication of The Hidden Health Care System and other works, Professor Levin brought to public health’s attention the role of non-professional resources in strengthening personal capacity for health and well being, primarily self-care. In the 1980s, Professor Levin pressed for improvement in the quality of medical care, notably as a co-author of Medicine on Trial (1988). As an advisor for over thirty-five years to the World Health Organization’s European Region, as well as to various non-governmental organizations in Europe, Latin America, the British Commonwealth Caribbean and the United States, Professor Levin had worked to develop cross-departmental collaborations, particularly at the national level in European countries, to improve the impact on health of diverse public policies in such areas as agriculture, education, environment, employment, communications and tourism. During his career as professor, researcher, and advisor, Professor Levin had developed innovative educational programs, including founding the global health division at the Yale School of Public Health, always aiming to enhance the ability of health practitioners and policy makers to effectively work across sectors as public health advocates. Throughout his career, Professor Levin had published extensively, led numerous international seminars, served on editorial boards of many scholarly journals, and spoken to a wide range of audiences emphasizing health in the global context of economic and social development. Clarifying the links between poverty, social inequity, and health, he had increased policy makers awareness of the need to make healthy public policies through intersectoral action designed to optimize the benefits of collaborative health interventions in effective and sustainable ways.

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In Memoriam: Lowell S. Levin, DEd, MPH ’60 November 27, 1927–April 14, 2019

Professor emeritus of the Yale School of Public Health, and an advisor for more than three decades to the World Health Organization’s European Region and to non-governmental organizations throughout Europe and the Western Hemisphere, Prof. Lowell Stern Levin passed away on April 14 at the age of 91.

Prof. Levin joined Yale in 1963, where he ultimately led the Division of International Health and the Yale/WHO Centre for Health Promotion Policy and Research. He was founder of the Global Health Division at the Yale School of Public Health (1994). In 2009, the Yale School of Public Health created The Lowell Levin Prize, awarded annually to a graduating student whose work addresses health promotion and global health.

Prof. Levin’s research often challenged established public health beliefs and practices. He was a pioneer in linking social relations and behavior with health, and brought attention to citizen participation in health care, non-professional resources that strengthen personal capacity for health and well-being, and to self-care, through numerous publications and advisement to The People’s Medical Society. Levin pressed for improvement in the quality of medical care, notably as a co-author of Medicine on Trial (1988), a groundbreaking volume documenting the extent of medical mistakes and other widespread medical scandals. Although highly controversial at the time, its findings have been subsequently confirmed.

Throughout his career, Prof. Levin published extensively, led numerous international seminars, served on editorial boards of many scholarly journals, and spoke to a wide range of audiences. He emphasized health in the global context of social and economic development and the Social Determinants of Health. Clarifying the links between poverty, social inequity, and health, he coached policy makers to collaborate across disciplines to make sustainable healthy public policies. Prof. Levin participated in the creation of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion; an international agreement signed at the first WHO International Conference on Health Promotion in 1986.

In addition to a long history of serving his community, Prof. Levin was a co-founder of Yale University Health Services for students, faculty, staff, and their families. He took morning walks for many years with his beloved dogs and picked up litter ranging from a discarded cup to abandoned tires. He organized a “We Mean Clean” initiative for New Haven residents to voluntarily pick up neighborhood litter on Saturday mornings. He was a founder of Friends of Beaver Ponds Park in New Haven, previously a garbage dump, but now a beautiful city park. He also served on the New Haven Solid Waste Management Commission and challenged officials on the city’s lack of cleanliness.

Prof. Levin began his academic career at the University of Vermont in 1957, specializing in rural health planning. He directed a United States human resources program at the University of Pittsburgh before joining Yale.

A graduate of the University of California Los Angeles and Stanford University, Prof. Levin received his doctorate in education from Harvard University. He received his training in public health at Yale University. He formally retired from Yale in 1998.


Education & Training

MPH Yale University (1960)
DEd Harvard University (1954)

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