The Newsletter 85 Spring 2020

New IIAS Programme: The Forum on Health, Environment and Development (FORHEAD)

As of 1 January 2020, FORHEAD has moved its international base to the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), where FORHEAD co-director Jennifer Holdaway is now affiliated and will continue to coordinate the network and its efforts.

The Forum on Health, Environment and Development (FORHEAD) is an interdisciplinary network that brings together natural, medical and social scientists to explore the implications of environmental and social change for public health in China and beyond.

Environmental and social change have powerful impacts on public health, but interactions between natural and social systems are complex and fluid. Understanding and addressing them requires diverse forms of knowledge and the engagement of multiple actors. In China, the situation is complicated by the sheer pace of change and by the fact that different regions and populations face different problems as the result of their diverse environmental conditions and development pathways.

Dr Jennifer Holdaway


Since 2008, FORHEAD has sought to strengthen the knowledge base for responding to environmental and health problems in China and promote the more effective uptake of existing knowledge. It has fostered the development of a cohort of professionals able to work effectively on these issues from a perspective that is holistic and problem-oriented rather than narrowly discipline-based or technical. Our focus is on environment and health challenges associated with rapid industrialisation, the intensification of agriculture and urbanisation.

Programme focus

FORHEAD’s work has evolved through several stages from field mapping, through the building of the network and development of research sites through small grants and summer institutes to a focus on specific issues through working groups.

In this current phase, the focus will be on distilling and disseminating the findings and experiences of the FORHEAD network through additional publications and curriculum materials that can be used by a wide range of different institutions. We will also be exploring the implications of China’s experience for other countries, particularly in the context of China’s growing international engagement.

Jennifer Holdaway

Jennifer Holdaway became an IIAS fellow in January 2020. As co-director of FORHEAD, she will continue to coordinate the network and its efforts during her affiliation with IIAS. Jennifer was formerly a Program Director and the China Representative at the Social Science Research Council and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. She holds a BA in Chinese Studies from Oxford University and a PhD in Political Science from the City University of New York. Her writing on environment and health and on various dimensions of migration and development has been published in journals including the China Quarterly, the Journal of Contemporary China, Social Science and Medicine and the International Migration Review.

Coordinator: Jennifer Holdaway

Websites: and