Jennifer Ruger, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine, was elected a member on the Council on Foreign Relations last month.
The Council on Foreign Relations, founded in 1921, is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides a forum for those with different areas of expertise to share information. “It serves three functions: It’s a membership organization, a think tank and a publisher,” CFR Senior Fellow for Global Health Yanzhong Huang said.
Ruger focuses specifically on global health governance. She became interested in the subject while conducting research on global health policy.
“I’ve been doing theoretical and empirical work in global health policy and health equity,” she said. “We want to develop normative frameworks to guide global health policy such that it will be more equitable, fair and efficient.”
Ruger explained that the field of global health policy has changed over the few years. “What we’ve seen in global health governance is increasing fragmentation and pluralism ... [a] proliferation of actors and rapid increase in funding for global health,” she said. “There have been a number of problems that have emerged and are ripe for research as a result of this changing landscape.”
Ruger has been involved with the CFR since 2010, when she participated in a global health governance series. The CFR also organizes a number of initiatives and events regarding international affairs, like workshops, panel discussions, symposia, roundtables and seminars. Events held by the CFR typically include formal presentations to discuss particular issues as well as a question and answer period and discussion.
“The CFR brings people together and builds on the expertise around pressing problems in foreign policy and international affairs,” Ruger said. “I always learn an enormous amount when I attend myself because it’s very rich and informative.
“I’m delighted to see that the Council on Foreign Relations has taken up such important issues and provided a very effective forum,” she added.
The CFR includes people from all walks of life, including scholars, business executives, lawyers, nonprofit professionals and government officials, according to Ruger. She also said that the CFR’s strength is having a “pull on key questions and issues — it brings together people and evidence to address these problems.”
The organization, which has over 4,500 members and term members, has an extensive application process. The organization solicits applicants who must then get nominations and seconding letters from existing members of the CFR. Current members give input on applicants as well.
“I feel very privileged ... it’s an enormous honor to become a member of the CFR because it has tremendous convening powers around major issues in international relations,” Ruger said.
Colleagues of Ruger expressed their happiness at seeing her elected to the board.
“I’m thrilled for Jen. She’s a fairly recent addition to the department but is a fun and engaged colleague,” said Jonathan Moreno, a member of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. “This appointment will be much valued in the department.”
Colleagues also noted Ruger’s extensive qualifications. “She is a leading scholar in global health and her research on health and social justice informs our debate. In the past, they have invited her to speak three times at the council, and they find her articulate, smart and friendly,” Huang said. “I believe that she will be an excellent addition to the CFR membership program and certainly look forward to working with her in the future.”