Evan D. Anderson, JD, PhD
Where people live, learn, work, and play — the social determinants of health — have a major impact on their health risks and outcomes. Public health and legal expert Evan D. Anderson helps students at Penn Nursing understand the broader context of patients’ lives, and the laws and policies they’ll encounter in their clinical practice.
“In my teaching, I aim to demystify lawmaking processes and resulting policy so that students feel confident working to change rules that influence health.”
- PhD, Temple University, 2015
- JD, Temple University, 2007
- BA, University of Pennsylvania, 2002
“Public Health Law” (PubH507) is another course that Dr. Anderson designed and now directs. The
course introduces legal and ethical concepts essential to the use of law and legal reform in promoting public health. Dr. Anderson explores these concepts through current events, which provide ongoing examples of how laws empower, guide, and constrain public health decision-making and action. Dr. Anderson also teaches the “Capstone Seminar” (PUBH508 & 509), where students choose a public health problem to work on with the guidance of a mentor. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate nursing courses about health and social policy, and their relation to the nation’s health.
Before joining Penn Nursing’s faculty, Dr. Anderson was a senior legal fellow at Public Health Law Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that promotes regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public health and is based at Temple University.
Dr. Anderson conducts and writes about research that explores the relationship between laws and population health. A big part of his recent work has focused on bridging the gap between legal and epidemiological researchers, each of whom brings a distinct set of norms and methods to empirical research. In book chapters and papers, he has helped lay out some ways that legal researchers can incorporate scientific principles into how they identify, collect, and analyze laws. The interactive, open-access portal that Dr Anderson helped design (lawatlas.org) now hosts more than 50 datasets quantifying variation in health-related laws between states and over time, and has a wide variety of collaborators.
Aggressive policing is the subject of some of Dr. Anderson’s recent work. He is interested in understanding how lessons from patient safety campaigns and broader trends in the design and delivery of health care might provide insights into ways to make policing safer and more effective.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Dr. Anderson teaches courses in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and in the nursing school. Housed in the Perelman School of Medicine, the MPH program is a university-wide, interdisciplinary collaboration among eight schools, including nursing. Dr. Anderson is also a senior fellow at the Center for Public Health Initiatives, a university-wide center that promotes interdisciplinary research, education and practice in public health.
Ensuring that students understand how laws and policies are created and how they affect health and health care is a key theme in Dr. Anderson’s classrooms. He and Penn Nursing faculty member Ross S. Johnson, PhD, MPH, designed a new course, “Social Epidemiology” (PubH540), and taught it for the first time in summer 2016. The course examines the social factors that influence population health, exploring the measurement of those factors in epidemiologic research and the mechanisms that link them to individual and population health.
Selected Career Highlights
- Co-author, “The WHO and National Health Law: Building Capacity and Transparency,” Bulletin of the WHO, 2016
- Co-author, “Grounded Innovation,” in Translating Evidence into Policy, 2015
- Co-author, “Legal Regulation of Health-Related Behavior: A Half-Century of Public Health Law Research,” Annual Review of Law and Social Science; 2013
- Co-author, “Measuring Law for Public Health Research,” Public Health Law Research, 2012