Know Your Professor: Robert Coulam

August 10, 2015

Bob Coulam

We chatted with Bob Coulam on health policy and his interests outside of the SOM.

What is your favorite topic to teach?

I love teaching how methods from different disciplines – law, economics, political science, and others – yield different understandings of health policy and the health system. Much of what I teach is in one way or another devoted to this. 

What is your favorite book?

My most recent favorite book is The Allure of the Archives, by a French social historian, Arlette Farge. She looked at social history by going to the archives of the French courts (common courts that dealt with issues between ordinary people, landlords, local soldiers, police, etc.) in order to document the lives of ordinary French people on the eve of the revolution. The archives she found hadn’t been opened previously.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would like to go to Paris because I haven’t been back in awhile and would enjoy going again.

Fill in the blank: When I’m not teaching, I’m….

I’m working on cars or building things. I enjoy carpentry.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I don’t really have a favorite quote, but I do have two favorite essays: Michael Walzer, "Political Action: The Problem of 'Dirty Hands' " and George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language."

I love my students because…

Because they provide a reminder to go back to square one in fields I have studied and worked in for decades. Students are working in those areas now, and they always provide a good reminder not to make assumptions and to deal with things at level one. It is refreshing.

I love Simmons because…

I love Simmons because it is small enough to allow a form of work with the students that wouldn’t be as readily possible elsewhere. I like that we are trying different things here, the Health Care MBA as one example. It was great to have the freedom to put the curriculum together for a new program.