Success during uncertain times: The Swiss School of Public Health Lugano Summer School 2020


Institutional Communication Service

24 August 2020

The Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) Lugano Summer School in Public Health Policy, Economics, and Management takes place 24-29 August 2020. With a 29-year history in Ticino, starting with the vision of Dr. Gianfranco Domenighetti and originally located in Ascona, the Public Health Summer School has a long tradition of welcoming professionals and researchers from across Switzerland, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas to Ticino. What is significant about the 2020 edition? It’s taking place during a public health pandemic. The first time it will take place entirely online. It’s the first time a woman has ever been the Dean.

Unlike previous editions, the 29th edition takes place under extraordinary circumstances generated by the coronavirus pandemic. Restrictions on travel combined with both financial worries and workloads of the public health workforce, the 2020 program that was launched in December 2019 was revamped completely during the Spring to suit the unique needs during this pandemic. Courses, plenary lectures and networking activities will now go to people where they are.

Facing uncertainty in enrollment and quality of an online offer, the Steering Committee and staff (consists of colleagues from the SSPH+, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institutes (STPH), USI’s Institute of Public Health, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)), rose to the challenge of making the sure the value of the 29 year old programme was not diminished. Led by Prof. Dr. L. Suzanne Suggs, PhD, Full Professor of Social Marketing in the Institute of Public Health and the Institute of Public Communication at USI, member of the Swiss COVID-19 Science Task Force, and first ever woman Dean of the Summer School, this edition of the Summer School may be one of its most successful editions in its history.

Prof. Suggs states: “I was already under pressures that no Dean had before me in terms of the budget and  costing of the school, and then suddenly because of the coronavirus pandemic we were facing a threat to our model of teaching and training that was well established for 28 years. We are an international summer school that normally brings some 120 participants from ~30 countries here each summer. Suddenly, we were faced with the need to cancel, try for a hybrid approach, or go fully online. Cancelling a relevant public health training activity during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was not acceptable. We were not convinced we could safely meet in Lugano in August, even back in March and April when we had to make the decision. It was tough and we faced incredible uncertainty. But through really hard work, a good strategy, and the many additional financial sponsors and supports who contributed this year, we have exceeded the last two years of enrollment".

This year 150 people are enrolled in new courses such as "Economic Health and COVID-19", “Systems analytics” and “Generating demand” and “Air pollution”, as well as established courses. "I am thrilled and very satisfied at the result of this work. We are not done yet and the results will be visible after next week, but I am very proud of what we have accomplished", says Prof. Suggs. 

The programme of the SSPH+ Lugano Summer School includes six 3-day courses, two 1-day courses, and 10 plenary lectures. Plenary lectures take place every day from 9-10:00 and 17-18:00 and are free and open to the public. Members of the community can join these plenary lectures on zoom to listen and participate in a Q&A session, or watch the streamed version on Youtube:

See attached the complete schedule of the Plenary Lectures Series.
For further information:


About SSPH+: The Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) assembles the inter-university faculty of public health sciences affiliated with the twelve Swiss univer­sities of the SSPH+ Foundation: Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, Svizzera italiana, Zurich, BFH, SUPSI and ZHAW. SSPH+ is the national coordi­nating body for the promotion of postgraduate university education and research in the fields of public health.