Susan Howard

Susan Howard

Susan Howard


Design-thinking, One Health, global health, sustainability, conservation decision-making, application of social marketing, gamification and emerging digital and social technologies for behavior change

Susan Howard is a passionate educator and entrepreneur committed to helping students realize and maximize their potential as ‘scholars and engaged citizens who are prepared to act’ through an unconventional exploration of design thinking, principles of gamification, social marketing, and ideation tools. Susan’s teaching style engages students in a systems-thinking approach to understanding the intrinsic link between health, environmental, social, and economic challenges and provides them with an arsenal of tools to ultimately adopt, advocate for, or design transformative solutions at an individual, campus, community or global level.

Susan is an instructor in the School of Integrative Studies teaching the INTS 210 Sustainable World course and a special topics course on systems thinking in health, medicine and society (INTS 375). In the Fall of 2019 in addition to teaching INTS 375, she will teach INTS 410 Contemporary Health Issues and a flagship Design Thinking Course (DSGN 101) as part of a new Design Thinking Minor.  Prior to her appointment as a Medicine, Health & Society faculty, she served as an adjunct instructor in the Global and Community Health department and as an instructor in the Environmental, Science & Policy department. Her educational contribution to enhancing student learning at Mason has been recognized by the Office of the Provost in 2014 for Outstanding Teaching as a result of high student evaluations, through the 2017 Teaching Distinction Award from the Stearns Center for Faculty Teaching Excellence and through the 2019 Faculty Career Connection Award.

Susan’s systems-thinking approach to teaching has been influenced by her early work as an award-winning investigative producer and broadcast journalist at KITV in Honolulu where she reported on community, environmental, health and social issues and uncovered inequities in health care access that resulted in legislative changes in Hawaii. Locally, in Maryland, at WMAR-TV, in collaboration with WRC-TV, she spearheaded a civic, governmental, and corporate initiative combined with a media campaign entitled Closing the Loop that led to the promotion of conservation practices and adoption of recycling policies in the DMV region. Her career then evolved to apply media, marketing, and advertising practices as tools for social and behavior change to solve global health and environmental problems as a co-founder and managing director of the communication and marketing firm, Howard Delafield International, LLP.

Working in over 20 countries her work has included designing multisectoral programs and projects to address the link between environmental change and infectious diseases; stigma & discrimination and HIV; deforestation and fuel efficient stoves; integration of nutrition and agriculture in infant and young child feeding; earthquake relief and maternal, neonatal and child health; population dynamics, family planning and reproductive health; water, sanitation and hygiene; environmental health and democracy and governance. Clients/funders have included the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the German Development Bank (KfW), UN agencies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and corporations and non-profit organizations including Save the Children, Family Health International, the International Rescue Committee, Family Health International, Tetra Tech, Chemonics, and the Manoff Group. Susan is currently producing and managing several USAID-funded game-design and development projects in collaboration with VSGI @ Mason to affect behavior change in global health.

Susan received her Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Hawaii with a dual specialization in Health Systems and Global Health, and is a doctoral candidate at Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy Department completing her research and dissertation. Susan is of South Asian descent and is herself a product of an integrative undergraduate education from Wesleyan University. Finally, complementing her teaching background and professional experience, is her commitment to service that includes her active volunteer involvement with the National Park Service where she earned recognition through the 2016 NPS Centennial Service Award, and her support of the arts, through her membership in the Arts Club of Washington.

Current Research

Use of choice-based digital games to analyze the feedback effect of park visitor behavior on wildlife, ecosystem and human health

Direct-to-consumer approaches using video game technology on fertility awareness and reproductive health information for adolescents in India


Web-based behavior frameworks as a discovery and decision-making tool to accelerate global health results


Selected Publications

Howard, S., Livermore, M. (2016) Applications of marketing practices and agent-based modeling to promote the principles of One Health in the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Prepared for the C&O Canal National Historic Park & Wildlife Biology and Public Health Divisions of the National Park Service.

Howard, S. Mustafa, S. (2016) EcoTEX Academy: STEM in Nature. A prototype for place-based experiential learning. Prepared for the National Park Service Wildlife Biology Division, Office of Public Health and Conservation Stewardship Division.

Howard, S., Singhal, V., Haider, N., Singh, J, Sharma, Sl, Chowdhury, A. (2013) Mind the gap: Uttar Pradesh Program Review. Prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Howard, S. Knapp, C. Adnan, A. (2013) We are the Government: Strategic Communication for Citizen Participation in Local Governance in Bangladesh. Prepared on behalf of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Tetra Tech.

Howard, S., (2011) Multi-Media & Training Catalogue. Alive & Thrive Ethiopia.   A compilation of media products produced by a creative team that HDI managed. Prepared for the Alive & Thrive Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Howard, S., (2010) Application of marketing principles to accelerate stunting reduction in Ethiopia. Prepared for the Alive & Thrive Initiative of the Gates Foundation.

Howard, S. (2009) Media Toolkit with Discussion Guide. A compilation of media products produced by a creative team that HDI managed. Prepared on behalf of the Ministry of Health in Guyana, the National AIDS Programme and USAID.

Howard, S., (2010) National Plan for Integrated Maternal Neonatal Child Health, Ministry of Health, Government of Pakistan. A strategy paper produced as a result of a high-level ministerial forum in Dubai, UAE.

Bradley, P., Howard, S., (2008) Innovative Approaches to Mobilizing Communities for Vaccination. UNICEF/Save the Children.



Grants and Fellowships

Teaching Assistant Fellowship, Environmental Science & Policy, AY 2016 & 2017

Curriculum Impact Grant, Office of the Provost, Conceived of and developed course modules to reflect professional development needs of sustainability professionals; co-wrote, revised, and solicited department and college feedback for successful grant. AY 2018-2019, Environmental Science & Policy Department, George Mason University


Courses Taught

DSGN 101 Design Thinking 101

INTS 375 Special Topics: Health, Medicine & Society - Design Thinking

INTS 410 Contemporary Health Issues

Past Courses Taught: INTS 210 Sustainable World



PhD, (Candidate), Environment, Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

MPH, (1999), International Health/Health Services Administration & Planning, School of Public Health, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.

BA, English and East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.



Recent Presentations

Howard, S. (Chair), Livermore, M., Schneider, A., (January 2018) Practicing Design- thinking: Case Studies from Asia and Africa. Accepted symposium presentation at the NCSE’s 18th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment: The Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure: Building Resilience in a Changing World January 23-24, 2018, Washington, DC

Howard, S., Aguirre, A. 2018 Planetary Health Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland Loop Trail “Quest”: Use of choice-based digital games to analyze the feedback effect of park visitor behavior on wildlife, ecosystem and human health. Accepted abstract.

Howard, S., Aguirre, A. 2018 NACCB Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, Loop Trail “Quest”: Use of choice-based digital games to analyze the feedback effect of park visitor behavior on wildlife, ecosystem and human health. Accepted abstract.

Annual Oxfam Hunger Banquet, SAIL, Social Action and Integrative Learning, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. Invited to speak on actionable solutions to hunger and poverty. Talk entitled Hunger, Beyond Food: Case Study of Ethiopia (November 2017)

National Park Service, Wildlife Biology, Conservation Stewardship and Public Health Division Chiefs and Staff, Ft. Collins, Colorado. Invited to speak on social marketing in global health with applications to ecological health in protected areas. (May 2017).

National Park Service, Great Falls, Maryland, C&O Canal, 2017 Volunteers in the Park Speaker Series. Invited speaker to present on One Health in the C&O Canal to National Park Service Staff and Volunteers (April 2017, November 2017).

Howard, S., Pederson, B., Cogswell, L., Wakefield, C., Shah, N., (September 2017) The Global Malaria Behavior Framework: a discovery and decision-making tool to accelerate results. Accepted Abstract and Oral Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Roll Back Malaria Communication Working Group Convening 2017, Dakar, Senegal.

Howard, S., Swarup, S., (February 2016) We are the government: Strengthening Local Governance in Bangladesh Through Strategic Behavior Change Communication. Accepted Abstract and Oral Presentation at USAID’s International SBCC Summit 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.