Transporting patients from one location to another in post-quake Haiti can be a complicated task; often involving barriers of logistics, distance, and language. Sometimes the greatest challenge is a ticking clock.
Keeping Harvard fed is a mammoth logistical effort, almost a military operation. The 12 University-owned restaurants, 13 dining halls, and many catered events now serve about 26,000 meals a day — about 5 million a year. University cooks make 40,000 gallons of soup. Students consume 40,000 pounds of regional squash annually, and nearly as much in local tomatoes.Here’s how it breaks downMeals served per day: 25,000Menu items: more than 5,000Options at every meal: about 100Recipes in Harvard database: 4,000Gallons of soup made each year: 40,000Most popular soup: clam chowderMost popular entrée: Korean BBQ beef — 1,500 pounds per weekPlaces to eat on campus: 13 dining halls, 12 restaurants, one kosher kitchen, one faculty club, and a catering service for many event venuesPercentage of food budget for local ingredients: 25Percentage of local produce: 35-70 percent, depending on the seasonNumber of local farms supplying Harvard: 250Number of local food processors supplying Harvard: 29Sample of foods processed locally: breads, granola, cider, bagels, dried fruit, pasta, salsa, spices, cheese, salad dressing, pita chips, peanut butter, tofu, soy milk, sushiPercentage of Harvard meals that are vegetarian: 33Pounds of regional squash grown annually for Harvard: 40,000Pounds of regional tomatoes used annually at Harvard: 35,150Average daily dining hall trash: 4,360 poundsAverage daily dining hall compost and recycling: 4,700 poundsAnnual tonnage of compost: 583Percentage of recyclable waste diverted from dining operations trash: 59Number of undergraduate dining halls that compost: 12 of 13Number of Houses offering trayless-optional dining: 3Percentage of students for whom sustainable food is “extremely important”: 14Percentage for whom it is “not so important”: 15Number of Food Literacy Program undergraduate representatives: 15Source: Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services
Illustrating the tenacious bond between science and cooking, students used physics, chemistry, and biology to manipulate recipes and create foods that stretch the imagination.
Until recently, January usually meant one thing at Harvard Business School: a frenzy of summer internship interviews known affectionately as “Hell Week.” Like her fellow first-year M.B.A. students, Parker Woltz was prepared to spend her winter break handing out business cards.Unlike her predecessors, however, Woltz found herself making those introductions not in New York or Boston, but in a conference room in Ho Chi Minh City.Early last month, Woltz and five classmates found themselves lined up for a formal exchange of cards with their new Vietnamese associates. The students had read up on local customs: Start with the highest-ranking person in the room. Line up the cards you receive in front of you on the table. And, whatever you do, don’t pass out your card without using two hands. That’s rude.“It took forever,” Woltz said. “It felt very ritualistic. But by the end of the week, they were taking us out for lunches.”If the process was initially nerve-wracking, Woltz and her classmates could take heart in knowing that they were hardly alone. Their weeklong visit, during which they feverishly tackled a marketing project for a telecommunications company, was part of an ambitious new field-learning course now required of all first-year M.B.A. students.The 900 students all took whirlwind trips to emerging market economies. In teams of six, the students fanned out across a dozen locations — from Cape Town and Mumbai, to Shanghai and Warsaw, to Istanbul and Buenos Aires — to tackle business challenges with real companies. Each team received a proposal from its global partner for a new product or service and was asked to present a helpful plan by the end of the week.The trips were the focal point of an experimental new supplement to HBS’s long-standing curriculum, called Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, or FIELD. The three-part project — carried out on campus and abroad over the academic year — has educational leaders and observers looking to HBS, standard-bearer of the celebrated case-study method, to create a strong business education model for the 21st century.“FIELD reflects our understanding of what it means to be a leader in a global century,” said Nitin Nohria, dean of HBS. “We see FIELD as a powerful way of complementing the case method by putting students in real-world business scenarios, both here on campus and in emerging economies around the world.”The project was announced a year ago to a flurry of media coverage and speculation. FIELD would be a test of how innovative an elite business school — known for pioneering the use of a rigorous, classroom-based teaching method, no less — could be while remaining true to its core principles. In the weeks leading up to the student trips, “Poets & Quants,” the business-school rankings website, called FIELD “arguably the boldest experiment ever carried out in graduate business education.”The M.B.A. reconsideredFIELD was the result of several years of discussion at HBS, spurred by preparations for the School’s centennial celebration in 2008.“It was a point at which we as an institution engaged in some deep reflection,” said Youngme Moon, Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean. “HBS pioneered so much of the methodology of how business education is done around the world today. The question we asked ourselves was: 100 years from now, what will be our legacy, and how can we begin building it today?”Jay Light, then dean of HBS, commissioned a faculty panel to assess the state of the M.B.A. program and the readiness of its graduates to lead in a new century.“This started in 2006-07, when everyone thought the [business] world couldn’t be going better than it was going,” said Srikant Datar, Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting. But as Datar and his colleagues started interviewing other school’s deans, business leaders, students, and recruiters, they heard serious concerns about the state of business education that prefigured the coming global economic crisis. It was clear that the need to reconfigure the M.B.A. extended well beyond HBS, and beyond the timeline of the 2008 anniversary.In 2010, Datar and colleagues David Garvin, C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration, and Patrick Cullen, then a research associate at HBS, published “Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads.” The book was more than a philosophical treatise. Containing reams of data and several case studies of top B-schools, it identified skills that were in desperately short supply, even in elite M.B.A. programs.The book’s central theme urged business schools to teach ways of doing and being, rather than simply knowing. That idea became the basis for FIELD’s areas of focus: leadership (the being of business), global immersion (the doing of business), and the integration of that learning across the academic year.“No matter how much we fill our students with knowledge, the fact of the matter is that when they encounter a problem, that knowledge is not going to be enough,” Datar said. “How do you train people to think about the inevitable gaps that are going to be in their knowledge, to be able to think through situations for which their knowledge is going to be incomplete? In those instances, critical thinking becomes fundamental.”For Moon, who became chair of the M.B.A. Program after Nohria’s appointment as dean, the answer was to develop FIELD, with input from faculty across the School. In the fall, all 900 new students met for the first component of the course, which incorporated small group activities and projects meant to develop leadership. In October, students received their assignments for FIELD 2, the global immersion trips. This month, when students return for the spring semester, they’ll be assigned to new groups of six. Each team will be given $3,000 and charged with conceiving and developing a scalable business of its own.“When you undergo a change this dramatic, it can only come from the bottom up,” Moon said. FIELD, she added, “is really just the tangible manifestation of a more conceptual commitment that the faculty has made to field-based learning, small-group learning, and experiential learning opportunities.”Flexing some new musclesStudents, too, have shown an increasing interest in getting out into the field while in business school. The old M.B.A. stereotype — a young twenty-something sent to business school by a company hoping to put him on the management track — rarely applies today. Incoming M.B.A. students are now slightly older, more experienced, and less likely to have their way paid by an organization. Some students are hoping for a change of field after they graduate; many say they’d like to learn the tools to start and run their own businesses.“The students we accept today are more business savvy than ever,” Moon said. “The standard for what we teach in our classrooms has gone up over time.”Popular student clubs, such as the long-standing Entrepreneurship Club or the newer, consumer Internet-focused Startup Tribe, coupled with University-driven initiatives such as HBS’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and the Harvard Innovation Lab, have catalyzed that interest, giving M.B.A. students the space, funding, and social supports to tackle real-world challenges while juggling case readings and internship interviews.“On one hand, you could say, ‘Why change?’ On the other, it’s our responsibility to have our antenna up on the extent to which the demands of the business environment are changing,” Moon said. “We’re operating in a context now in which the world of business and the world at large have become increasingly complex. It affects not just traditional business, but domains like education, government, health care, and social enterprise.”The trips were also an experiment in HBS’s logistical capabilities. Sending 1,000 students, faculty, and support staff around the globe took the coordinated efforts of HBS Executive Education, external relations, legal and other administrators, and the School’s global research centers. While HBS prides itself on a robust alumni network, the task of finding enough global partners to help create 150 team trips required HBS to reach out and work with alumni on an unprecedented scale, Moon said.“We’ve had to use muscles we’ve never really had to use before,” she said. “In the process, we’re developing some different kinds of flexibility we’re just beginning to tap into. We’re inspired.”The realities of global marketsThe FIELD trips represented a creative opportunity to train students in many of the critical skills identified in “Rethinking the M.B.A.” Those include developing a global perspective, implementing effectively in the face of organizational realities, responding creatively to problems, and — perhaps most important in the wake of the financial crisis — understanding the limits of the financial models and markets that students learn about in the classroom.Nowhere are the models less certain than in rapidly developing markets like the ones just visited. Although HBS already boasts a student body that’s one-third international, and many more students who have worked abroad, Datar stressed the need to give students a leg up in tackling the unique challenges that American companies face overseas.“A large number of companies are going to have to get connected with emerging markets in the coming years,” Datar said. “They’re very different [from the American market], and if you think about and approach them as if they’re the same, you won’t succeed.”Melody Koh, a first-year student whose FIELD experience was in Chennai, India, found that despite her own global background — she grew up in Taiwan, before moving to the United States for college — tackling a new international market was still a challenge.She was struck by the daily contrasts they saw between the upper classes and people with limited incomes. Their global partner’s product might sell to a prosperous middle-income market in America, but in India the middle class meant something else entirely.That was an important realization for the team members, one they could only have learned on the ground. But it also spoke to a larger theme that emerged during the trip.“The income disparity is huge,” she said. “The living situation between a middle-class and an upper-middle-class family is very different. You think, ‘Oh, India is an emerging economy with 8 or 9 percent GDP growth,’ ” but that growth isn’t always visible in the field.The experience broadened her understanding of what a rapidly developing market looks like, and how growth affects the people in those economies, sometimes unevenly.“It’s easy to bucket these emerging countries in the same group, but they’re not the same,” she said.Supplementing the case methodAs the FIELD course heads into the final phase of its trial year, one thing is certain. The case method isn’t going anywhere, HBS leaders say. It remains the core of the required curriculum — 80 percent of the courses at the School employ it — as well as HBS’s international calling card among aspiring M.B.A.s and business leaders.Barrie Altshuler, a first-year M.B.A. student, chose to attend HBS “mainly because of the case study method,” which she’d used in her undergraduate business education at the University of California, Berkeley. “It keeps you on your toes,” she said. “You just don’t have the chance to zone out.”While Altshuler hadn’t heard the news about FIELD before deciding to attend HBS, the new course surpassed her expectations.“I think it was really valuable just being on the ground, face-to-face with your client,” she said. “You’re diving deeper into the business, bouncing ideas off them, coming up with an actual solution, and getting live feedback. When you do a case, you discuss it, and that’s it.”She and her teammates are now back in Boston. But officials from their partner company in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have promised to weigh the team’s suggestions and follow up with the steps they’ve chosen to take. Unlike a case, in which a business’s course of action can be rigorously argued but not truly affected, the results from the FIELD experience are still very much in play.“It was cool to establish that, to have a relationship that’s going to continue in the future,” Altshuler said.
This upcoming season, fans of Harvard’s sports teams will have an all new way to follow and support the Crimson as they take on the rest of the Ivy League.The August Launch of The Ivy League Digital Network will give students, alumni and all supporters of the Crimson a unique fan experience. Harvard fans can look forward to enjoying upgraded broadcasts for the teams they’ve enjoyed following in past seasons as the subscription based-channel will now offer broadcasts streamed in HD, with improved graphics and in-game statistical information. The completely redesigned digital channel includes an easy-to-navigate interface with a League-wide network schedule and new interactive touch points to showcase the expanded content offerings available on computer, mobile and tablet devices all without the use of an app.“Our athletes and our teams wouldn’t enjoy the success they do without the support of our great fans. That is why we are very excited to showcase Harvard Athletics on the new Ivy Digital Network, giving our fans a great new user experience and a great way to continue to support the Crimson,” said Tim Williamson, director of athletic communications. “With expanded production capabilities, more camera angles, better replays, and high definition quality, this partnership will allow us to enhance the access of our fans, alumni, student body and overall Harvard community to our athletic program.”Available now for a limited time, fans can purchase a discounted yearly package to the Harvard channel. In August, the price for subscriptions will increase. Read Full Story
Rakesh Khurana, the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School (HBS) and co-master of Cabot House, will become dean of Harvard College on July 1. Khurana has been a member of the Harvard community for 16 years, earning his Ph.D. through a joint program between HBS and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1998.Since 2010, he and his wife, Stephanie, have lived as co-masters at Cabot with their three children and 375 undergraduates. Khurana is an award-winning teacher and widely recognized scholar. In a question-and-answer session, he recently spoke about his appointment, the challenges facing the College and higher education in general, and the role of the College dean. GAZETTE: When you were younger, thinking about a career path, did you ever imagine that one day you would be dean of Harvard College?KHURANA: It was not something I had imagined. Like most faculty, my primary focus has been on research, teaching, and service to my department, profession, and the College as co-master of Cabot House.The opportunity to serve as the dean of Harvard College is a great honor, and I am humbled by it. I am excited by the opportunity to work alongside Harvard’s faculty and staff to create a transformative educational experience for our students.GAZETTE: What does it mean to you to be dean of Harvard College?KHURANA: Words cannot capture what I feel in my heart. There is a profound sense of responsibility. But I think the feelings are similar to the ones that Harvard faculty, staff, and students experience every day. It means being a part of a meaningful institution. It means being part of a community devoted to the idea that a liberally educated mind and the pursuit of knowledge are ends in themselves. I believe the role of a dean is to closely listen to our faculty, students, and staff to help develop a collectively shared vision of our future, and then providing them the direction, resources, and support needed to make that vision a reality.GAZETTE: What do you see as some of the challenges facing the College right now?KHURANA: Harvard has played a unique role in the history of higher education by actively shaping its future in response to external challenges. I believe this means our community cannot be complacent or simply wait for things to happen. If our core values about the importance of liberal education and faculty self-governance are to endure, we must articulate them in ways that are resonant with present times and renewed by embracing the best methods for learning and advancing knowledge.GAZETTE: You and your wife, Stephanie, have served as Cabot House masters for about four years. Do you feel being a House master can help prepare a person to be dean of the College, and if so, in what ways?KHURANA: I believe that the perspective and the experience we bring by having the privilege of living with our undergraduate students and tutors at Cabot House gives me a window into our students’ day-to-day experiences and the questions they are trying to answer. As masters, we have a sense of the pressures students feel in making choices about concentrations, navigating Harvard’s social scene, negotiating parental expectations, and exploring who they are and who they are trying to become.In addition, serving as co-master has helped me realize how important it is for students to see themselves as leaders who can shape our House community. When we asked students to find ways to create more vibrant social spaces or to bring arts into House life, our students responded with solutions that we could not have imagined. They created the Cabot Café, a late-night undergraduate coffee house, the Cabot House Theater Company that now organizes eight student productions a year, and the Third Space, an arts studio where students can explore their creative and artistic interests.GAZETTE: Your research focuses on management and leadership. Do you believe elements of your research have helped prepare you for this role?KHURANA: One of the things we teach is that effective institutions are never about one person; rather the most effective institutions are motivated by a collective vision and serve to advance society’s most cherished values. Institutions like Harvard exist and persist not because they are built around a cult of personality, but because they transcend a single individual. Institutions allow us to do something together that none of us could do alone.We also teach that the most effective leaders look to their colleagues for advice, guidance, and honest input. I have had the benefit of working alongside and being mentored by many Harvard colleagues who have served or are serving in administrative leadership roles and whose wisdom, guidance, and feedback I plan to draw upon.GAZETTE: Looking back, what would today’s Rakesh Khurana think about the past’s Rakesh Khurana, the undergraduate?KHURANA: If I could go back to my younger self, and assuming that my younger self would listen, I would tell him not to be so anxious and not to treat every decision as if it was going to determine his destiny. I would tell him that serendipity plays a bigger role in what happens to you than what you plan. I would also tell him not be afraid to ask for help and give thanks to all the people who have nurtured him along the way.
Read Full Story A follow-up study led by a joint team of Harvard and MIT researchers explores the promise and perils of de-identifying learner data from MOOCs (massive open online courses) and offers recommendations of how to balance privacy with open data.The dataset (made available in May) contains the original learning data from the 16 HarvardX and MITx courses offered in 2012-13 that formed the basis of the first HarvardX and MITx working papers (released in January) and underpin a suite of powerful open-source interactive visualization tools (released in February).Led by John P. Daries, Senior Research Analyst at MIT (Institutional Research/Office of the Provost), the new report takes a deep dive into the team’s motivations behind efforts to release learner data, the contemporary regulatory framework of student privacy, and their efforts to comply with those regulations in creating an open data set from MOOCs, and some analytical consequences of de-identification.Published in the online computer magazine ACM Queue, “Quality social science research and the privacy of human subjects requires trust,” is available online.Beyond just MOOCs and online learning, the team expects their work to help inform broader conversations about the use of open data in the social sciences, motivating either technological solutions or new policies that may allow open access to possibly re-identifiable data while policing the uses of the data.Daries co-authors are Justin Reich (Harvard), Jim Waldo (Harvard), Elise M. Young (Harvard), Jonathan Whittinghill (Harvard), Daniel Thomas Seaton (MIT), Andrew Dean Ho (Harvard), Isaac Chuang (MIT).
This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.For Taylor Carol, music has been not so much a lifesaving prescription as a lifesaver in the dark.Quarantined in a hospital isolation unit when he was 12 after receiving a bone marrow transplant in his battle with leukemia, he spent six months trying to regain the ability to walk, eat, and see.“In that painful darkness, music really became a savior, a crutch for me,” said Carol ’17, who had The Dave Matthews Band, the Who, and John Mayer in heavy rotation. “I found something I could really grasp onto for the meaning of life.”That experience formed his forever connection to music, one he would follow to become an ambassador for children’s cancer issues, an aspiring singer and songwriter, and to produce a profoundly personal senior thesis in the form of a record album held together by his experience with cancer.Brave“I can’t live a life outside music, and I want to use the platform it provides to really impact social causes in a meaningful way,” said Carol, 21, who plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a music career after graduation from Harvard College.Sitting in Lamont Library Cafe, Carol recounted the devastating diagnosis that upended his ordinary childhood in Dana Point, Calif. Born into an athletic family—Dad, a college baseball player, Mom, a former tennis pro—Taylor was 11 when he fractured his elbow playing Little League baseball. The bone didn’t heal, and when night sweats and fatigue followed, doctors diagnosed a rare and acute form of leukemia.Saline“They thought I had two weeks to live,” Carol recalled. “We moved to Seattle, where I received joint treatment from Children’s Hospital of Seattle, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and the University of Washington Medical Center, where they found me a perfect bone marrow match from someone in Germany.”He found strength in his Christian faith and his love of singing, which had taken root in the fourth grade, when his class staged “Westward Bound.” Uninterested at first in even participating, afterward he begged his parents for voice lessons.“In that persistently quiet darkness in Seattle, a voice and passion for music grew louder than ever before. I felt this unprecedented desire to sing and get back on stage and perform,” he said.His was not a straight line to success. Seeing friends who he had made in the cancer ward lose their battles left Carol racked with survivor’s guilt. He decided to channel that frustration and started performing for any fundraiser that would have him.“I became a spokesman for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” he said. “I also co-wrote my first song with Mateo Messina [a Grammy Award-winner for his “Juno” film score], which was performed by the Pacific Northwest Symphony. I really felt the power of music again.”He returned to high school, reading voraciously and bribing teachers with chocolate chip cookies to tutor him so that he could catch up on the work he had missed. When he got into Harvard, he knew he would continue to use a philanthropic platform to share his message of hope.On campus, where he lives in Cabot House, he focused on his English studies and singing with the Glee Club. Outside of Harvard, Carol (who describes his style as John-Mayer-meets-Ed-Sheeran-meets-Michael-Buble) performed the national anthem at Red Sox and Celtics games, and took the stage with Will Farrell and Tina Fey at cancer fundraising events.Wanting his senior thesis to expound on his passion for music and his dream to help young cancer patients, he petitioned to write an album of songs that served as a sort of “mentoring” on end-of-life issues.“I’ve written songs [“Saline,” “Six Inches Away,” “Soar,” and “Fall Away”] based on common experiences I’ve seen firsthand: the sense of isolation, romance in the hospital ward, infertility, aspects of the disease that fall through the cracks of the doctors and nurses,” he said.Josh Bell, the poet and Briggs-Copeland Lecturer on English, who is Carol’s adviser, said the process has been at turns thoughtful and heartfelt.“Taylor’s writing always has this buoyancy to it that helps him learn to deal. That writing will probably also help other people deal with their lives,” Bell said. “There’s much darkness and anxiety in his writing, but his attempt to transcend it is what his work is about.”Carol said his goal for the album is twofold: to prove the merit of song on an academic level and to have an impact on young patients.“Music has the ability to inspire hope, to challenge beliefs, and to connect with the listener,” he said. “If even one patient listens to this album and finds a song that makes them feel a little less lonely, a little more loved, or a little bit stronger, it’s been an absolute success.”
The calendar of events at Harvard this semester is packed with activities to carry you through the spring.A trio of iconic filmmakers and a Pulitzer-winning author are giving free talks. The science museums are rolling out a fresh slate of innovative exhibits.If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s Day-themed outing, hit Oberon and test your pop-culture acumen at the “Old School Game Show.”Those determined to stick to their New Year’s resolutions may find Daniel H. Pink’s talk on the science of perfect timing helpful. And when cabin fever sets in around spring break, plenty of events are on tap to keep minds active and dispel the winter doldrums. — Compiled by Rebecca Coleman* * *Good news for cinephiles,* * *Health and happiness,* * * Science and technology,* * *Valentine’s Day,* * *For book lovers,* * *Family-friendly,* * *Dance, visual arts, music
Researcher finds Coke’s fingerprints on health policy in China GAZETTE: You break the report into two parts. The first is an institutional story of how ILSI works both at global and local levels to advance corporate interests. It takes a behind-the-scenes look at the organization. Then, the report highlights the gap between the public narrative about ILSI as a charitable organization that adheres to IRS rules on nonprofits, and contrasts it with set of private channels within the organization used to influence ILSI science and health policy in branches around the world. What were some of the biggest revelations you came across here?GREENHALGH: ILSI was created more than 40 years ago by then-Coca-Cola vice president Alex Malaspina and it now has 15 branches worldwide, including one in China — but nobody had looked closely at how it operates. The biggest discovery was the incredible complexity and sophistication of the organization. Tracking it over six years, I discovered that there were four specific features of its structure and organization that enabled it to serve industry interests while appearing to serve the public. You just mentioned two of those features: ILSI has a dual character — visible and invisible, public and private — and a host of informal, hidden mechanisms by which companies can influence the science. But there are two more as well. One is a hierarchical global structure that concentrated power in D.C. and made the branches subject to the authority of ILSI-Global. Last but not least are exclusionary rules of participation. Participation in ILSI events — especially by speakers — was by invitation only, creating a quasi-closed world of ILSI science in which critics of corporate intervention in science were not invited. They were excluded by definition.GAZETTE: What do you hit on in the second part of the report?GREENHALGH: The second part is a detailed story of science-making and policymaking over 20 years, both at the global level of ILSI headquarters in the U.S. and at the local Chinese level. This story shows how Coke and other corporations used the ILSI apparatus to promote an industry-friendly approach to obesity calling for some dietary changes, but prioritizing exercise and remaining silent about soda taxes. In this section, I trace the process step by step to show how Coca-Cola managed to leave its mark on every phase of the process of making obesity policy. You can find Coke’s fingerprints on everything from framing the obesity problem and solution as matters primarily of physical activity, to naming the key, industry-friendly actors in the policy process, to creating activity-focused policies and programs. You can see Coke’s involvement too in the construction of the scientific rationales to support the physical-activity solution, primarily “energy-balance science,” which says you can eat as many calories as you wish, as long as you burn them off. Finally, you can detect Coke’s role in incorporating these activity-centered approaches into Chinese policy and programs. That’s pretty remarkable. GAZETTE: What triggered this study, along with the previous two, and how did you go about completing this body of work?GREENHALGH: When I started this project back in 2013, there was already growing concern about corporate intervention in science and policy on human health. There were important studies of the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, some by colleagues here at Harvard, but there was virtually no research on the food industry. At that time, the media were devoting massive attention to the growing epidemic of obesity, not just in the U.S but all around the world. It seemed highly likely the food industry was trying to skew the science of obesity to protect profits, and so I set out to study what the industry was doing in China, my area of expertise.There, I spent 10 weeks doing in-depth field research that involved, among other things, two dozen interviews with obesity experts, including those who had been instrumental in making China’s obesity policy. The interviews raised more questions than they answered, though. The biggest puzzle was ILSI, whose leaders in China claimed to create disinterested science despite being industry-funded. To understand developments in China, I needed to expand the project to include the entire ILSI-Global network, the Coca-Cola Co., and other global programs active in China, like the Exercise Is Medicine program. Over time, my research became a two-part project, with one part centering on China and the other on developments at the global level, which became interesting in their own right. “No one I was studying wanted me to be studying them. And so they put many obstacles in my way.” Last year, anthropologist Susan Greenhalgh, the John King and Wilma Cannon Fairbank Research Professor of Chinese Society, revealed how the Coca-Cola Co. worked through an industry-funded global scientific nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., to influence obesity science and policy solutions in China. In a follow-up study, published Monday in the Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law, Greenhalgh went deeper into how the nonprofit, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), was so successful at this. She traces the history of ILSI (the chief scientific nonprofit of the processed food and sugary drinks industry), exploring how it operates, and how Coca-Cola used it to influence the scientific agenda and shape obesity science and policy at global levels and in China. The Gazette interviewed Greenhalgh about the new study and what it says about industry influence on health science and policy.Q&ASusan GreenhalghGAZETTE: What’s the story you’re trying to tell here, and how does it expand on the 2019 report?GREENHALGH: This is fundamentally a story about Coke and ILSI protecting the soda industry from threats posed by the obesity epidemic — threats of soda taxes and government restrictions on marketing to kids. Since 2015, when The New York Times exposed Coke’s efforts to promote activity as the main solution for obesity, we’ve known that Coke was involved in distorting the science of obesity. My work reveals the scale of the impact and the inner workings of the organizations involved. The 2019 papers I published in The BMJ and the Journal of Public Health Policy documented Coke and ILSI’s success in getting the “exercise-first” approach embedded in China’s science and policy on obesity. This article digs into the operations of ILSI to explain that success during the two decades between 1995, when ILSI took up the obesity issue, and 2015, when Coke abandoned the exercise-first approach. “ … we’ve known that Coke was involved in distorting the science of obesity. My work reveals the scale of the impact and the inner workings of the organizations involved.” Related Soda company worked through nonprofit to shape obesity strategy, professor says GAZETTE: Did you encounter any challenges collecting the data and information?GREENHALGH: Absolutely. Everything was surrounded in secrecy. Many of the claims made by people involved with ILSI-funded science didn’t add up; the closer you looked, the more problematic some of them became. Over time, I came to see that the main actors — both ILSI leaders at global and local levels and the core scientists — were engaged in deliberately concealing what was going on. So, much of the research involved constantly trying to peel back layer after layer of obfuscation.The second major challenge was there was no roadmap to what I should study — which actors, which organizations, which activities. As a result, I had to adopt an open-ended, exploratory process of investigation and follow every lead to see where it would take me. It was an energizing process, because the more I looked, the more interesting — and often concerning — material I found.GAZETTE: What are some of the study’s limitations?GREENHALGH: No one I was studying wanted me to be studying them. And so they put many obstacles in my way. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the issues I was probing — especially after The Times’ expose — I was unable to interview the core scientists in the U.S.Fortunately, this problem didn’t affect the China research. Partly because it was done before the 2015 expose came out, but also because the political culture in China is very different. In China, corporate funding of scientific research is just routine. It’s business as usual, so people were willing to talk about it.GAZETTE: Why is it important that these issues be brought to the light?GREENHALGH: It’s important for two major reasons. First, despite some important critical work on corporate intervention in science, rich and powerful companies like Coca-Cola are continuing their efforts to create industry-friendly science, and that science threatens both the integrity of health science and the soundness of health policy. We’ve long known that food companies are meddling in the science, but we still know little about how they’re doing it and with what effects. If we are to intervene in these harmful dynamics, we need to know much more about how sophisticated, secretive quasi-corporate organizations like ILSI work.The second reason we need to keep these issues in the public eye — even in the midst of a viral pandemic — is that the impact of these companies may be much greater than is currently appreciated. Industry impact is likely to be greatest not in the U.S. or Western Europe, where the critical research is concentrated, but in countries in the Global South that are part of the ILSI network. If China is any indication, the political culture, especially in poor countries, may be welcoming to big companies offering financial and technological support. Substantial evidence suggests that ILSI operates in similar ways across the globe. We need to put much more energy into in-depth research on the effects ILSI is having on scientific understandings and official policies on chronic diseases around the world.In China the impact of that exercise-first approach promoted by Coke and ILSI continues to this day. Despite the findings of the 2019 articles, China has not questioned how it’s tackling its epidemics of obesity and related chronic diseases. I see this new work as both a call to action to the research community, and a concrete guide to the kinds of analytic strategies and research methods that are needed to call the food industry to account.This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.