Relational Society Project

Relational Society Project Dashboard (for team members)

RCRC Relational Society ProjectJody Hoffer Gittell, PI
Shyamal Sharma, Co-PI
Relational Coordination Research Collaborative
The Heller School, Brandeis University

About the Project

The Relational Society Project is an innovation incubator for seeking practical and sustainable solutions with human capacity to address the serious crises of our times that permeate geopolitical boundaries and ultimately affect us all around the globe.  We conceptualize Relational Society as a state of generalized reciprocity and robust social capital, created through goodwill, empathetic fellowship, and virtuous social interactions among individuals and stakeholders in a community as parts of a whole.   

We ​humans ​​evolved as an empathic species. Early in our evolution, as hunter-gatherers, we learned to value empathy and interdependence as crucial to our survival as a species, providing an impetus for creating a social order embedded in solidarity and recognition of our shared destiny.         ​

We now live in a highly interconnected world – evolutionarily, socially, economically, and environmentally. Paradoxically, however, large swaths of humanity around the globe are afflicted by loneliness and social isolation of epidemic proportions, in addition to suffering from deep divisions around race, economic class, religion, and political beliefs. Our shared destiny as a civil society is at grave risk.  

We are however hardwired with an innate capacity for relating with our fellow human beings, for expressing empathy, for building solidarity, for being resilient in crisis. Our hope, therefore, lies within us.  

We need to build a relational society, starting in the communities where we live. We need to repair our damaged relationships and re-build our communities in a far more inclusive way. At the micro level, we need to foster human empathy, at the meso level we need to engage coordinated collective action, and at the macro level we need to build supportive institutions. The RCRC has launched the Relational Society Project, with participating sites in the US, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Nigeria, China and Pakistan to understand how communities solve complex population health challenges through relationships at all three levels.

The Relational Society Framework

Relational Society FrameworkTimeline

Develop Framework & Recruit Sites

Comparative Case Study

Experimental Study

& Dissemination

June 2019 -
January 2020
May 2020 -
April 2021
May 2021 -
April 2023
January 2023 -
August 2023

Study Locations

Relational Society Project site map

Community Research Team Local Team Lead

China - Shanghai


Hao Gong,
Rutgers University, US

Nigeria - Abuja


Olawale Olaleye,
Brandeis University, US

Norway - Oslo


Claus Jebsen,
BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

Pakistan - Peshawar


Muhammad Siddique, Institute of Management Sciences, Pakistan

Saleem Gul,
Institute of Management Sciences, Pakistan

United Kingdom - Maryport, West Cumbria, England


Julie Clayton,
North Cumbria, National Health Service, UK

Suzanne Hamilton,
North Cumbria, National Health Service, UK

US - Portland, Oregon

Jody Hoffer Gittell,
Brandeis University, US

Shyamal Sharma,
Brandeis University, US

Sally Retecki,
CareOregon, US

Erin Fair Taylor,
CareOregon, US

US - Cincinnati, Ohio

Jody Hoffer Gittell,
Brandeis University, US

Shyamal Sharma,
Brandeis University, US

Rob Kahn,
Cincinnati Children's Hospital, US

Carly Riley,
Cincinnati Children's Hospital, US

US - Seacoast Region, New Hampshire

Jody Hoffer Gittell,
Brandeis University, US

Shyamal Sharma,
Brandeis University, US

Bill Gunn,
Connections for Health, US

RCRC logo with tagline

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Upcoming RCRC Events

RCRC Roundtable10th Annual 2020 RCRC Roundtable
Building a Relational Society
VIRTUAL EVENT | Nov 4-6, 2020

“Relational society extends relational coordination to a whole society perspective.”

Shyamal Sharma