Pittsburgh – Glasgow Partnership

Year established 2017
Sectors NHS
Country Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Overall goals

Resilience, Sustainability, and Health Equity
Founded on a unified vision of integrating themes of resilience, sustainability and health equity, teams from both Pittsburgh and Glasgow have been exchanging ideas and experiences with each other to further these efforts. Representatives from the Consumer Health Coalition, the Allegheny County Health Department, Resilient Pittsburgh, Resilient Glasgow and the Glasgow Center for Population Health are engaging other experts from various fields to broaden the scope of the project and engage communities in a multi-sectoral way. The project is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to discover methods of building sustainable and resilient communities in order to achieve health equity.

Key UK Colleagues and Partners

Associate Director of Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Glasgow City Council
RSA Scotland
University of Glasgow

International Partners

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (grant-awarding partner, providing financial support to the partnership)
Lead grant holders: Consultant Psychiatrist, Pittsburgh and Consumer Health Coalition
Other leading colleagues include: Chief Resilience Officer, Director of Public Health, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Closely linked to Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative and connecting to the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA)

Closely linked to Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative and connecting to the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA)

Sustainable development goals

  • SDG 1 - No poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good health and well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate action
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the goals

Funding source

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (US philanthropic body) complemented by contribution of resources in kind from participating partners

Project origin

Came about through a network of individual contacts noting the close parallels of two “post-industrial cities” that have experienced more than their fair share of health and social problems, but engaged in journeys of renewal; evidence came from multiple health status reports and wider socio-economic indicators.

Evidence of need

Evidence came from multiple health status reports and wider socio-economic indicators.

Project areas

One of the focuses within this partnership on public mental health (in the widest sense of the phrase), including connections into notions of the “diseases of despair”, e.g drugs, alcohol and mental health problems in part as symptoms of wider social malaise, but also links to tackling social isolation, tackling stigma, building cohesive communities, how urban environments and public / community spaces connect with mental wellbeing

Project activities

A number of well-planned exchange visits, both to Glasgow and to Pittsburgh, with multiple active work sessions in each city; complemented by a series of video discussions, webinars (e.g. on “Healthy Minds” public mental health, opioid crisis), article and blog writing, exploring of connections to learning of wider networks (e.g. Resilient Cities international network); further exchange sessions continue to be organised, such as a visiting study session in Glasgow by Professor of Public Health from Pittsburgh focused on tackling social isolation


Bring about a more rounded, well informed landscape for policy and practice to proceed, not just in the two participating cities but in the wider international network – with regard to the interlocking policy areas of economic renewal, inclusive societies, public health progress and healthy place.

Next steps

Continue the Pittsburgh-Glasgow exchange on a range of public health and urban development challenges, fostering a series of bilateral and multilateral connections to enhance learning and policy/practice development.


Clearly each participating individual and organisation is pressured for time and resource, in terms of the “day job” and we’ve all had a lot to learn in terms of national and international policy perspectives, differences in cultures, organisations (such as health systems), structures, political realities. Happy to share some of these perspectives.

Mitigating challenges

Having a place to share emerging learning and to hear of others’ experiences would be great. I also believe that there is much common ground in learning between developed countries and developing country experiences when it comes to public health (as well as many obvious differences); for example, even in “rich” countries like US and UK there are many living in abject poverty and hopelessness, totally disconnected from mainstream society – for whom radical new thinking and challenging of power imbalances is required. Similarly, there is much common ground in areas like resilience – where climate change impact and preparedness, water and clean environment remain challenges, ditto efficient and inclusive transportation systems.

Project gains

  • leadership
  • teamwork
  • awareness
  • academic
  • resilience
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