PUBHLTH 514: Public Health Sciences and the Environment


PUBHLTH514 Public Health Sciences and the Environment, Winter 2 credits (Syllabus)

Description: Many public health outcomes are directly influenced by human contact with the environment.  This course will explore an important discipline within public health, environmental health sciences – that is, the study of how environmental factors affect human health and disease.  We will apply environmental health and systems thinking principles to evaluate several major threats to public health: climate change, the built environment, and environmental justice issues.  We will also assess the effectiveness of policies designed to address and reduce the threats presented by these and other issues.

This course is organized into three sections: 

  • Section 1: Will introduce the core principles of environmental health science.
  • Section 2: Will introduce key ‘environments’ and their potential impacts on human health.
  • Section 3: Students will work in groups to explore case-studies on three contemporary environmental health issues.

Course Objectives:

  • Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge.
  • Explain effects of environmental factors on a population’s health.
  • Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease.
  • Apply process mapping methods to systematically evaluate the generation and movement of environmental hazards on the public.
  • Explain the impact of pollution control policies on public health outcomes.
  • Explain how environmental and occupational exposures can be measured and connected to human health.
  • Explain why a focus on sensitive and vulnerable groups is critical in environmental health science.
  • Explain strategies that can be applied to reduce environmental and occupational hazards.

Course competencies:

  • Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity
  • Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue
  • Recognize common environmental and occupational hazards and the health impacts they cause
  • Recommend appropriate exposure controls to reduce health impacts of environmental and occupational hazards