In Era of Mass Shootings, Johns Hopkins University Opens Research Center Dedicated to School Safety, Student Health

Last spring, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Education announced the formation of a new interdisciplinary center focused on best practices in school safety and student health. 

The Center for Safe and Healthy Schools will integrate the expertise of over two dozen faculty across the university, including professors of education, public health, engineering, arts and sciences, nursing, medicine, and others, according to JHU’s website. 

The team aims to provide school leaders, communities, and policymakers with evidence-based suggestions for creating safe and healthy school environments. 

Researchers will focus on three areas. The first is children’s health and wellness, which includes the study of both mental and physical health as well as social and emotional well-being. The second is community engagement, encompassing topics such as neighborhood safety and how to motivate diverse stakeholders to invest in their community’s schools. Finally, researchers will study school security and technology, examining the role of school resource officers and schools’ relationships with local and state police, among other topics. 

Leaders at JHU’s School of Education have pledged to release a set of resources for schools. They also plan to add programming within their school of education to better train prospective school counselors, teachers, and administrators. In addition, the university intends to offer online courses that will provide educators with “micro-credentials” in school safety. This particular component is set to roll out by next spring. 

Christopher Morphew, PhD, dean at the school of education, told American University radio that the center is the first of its kind to study school safety and health in a holistic, comprehensive way.

“Our work is driven by the belief that all students deserve to go to school in safe and healthy environments where they can learn and thrive,” JHU’s website states. 

Ginger O’Donnell is a senior staff writer for INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in the 2019 September issue.