Exploring Interrelationships: Environment and health

Do gains in human health status come at the cost of future generations?

Over the last two centuries, dramatic improvements in nutrition, sanitation and healthcare access have allowed people to live longer, healthier lives. Global average life expectancy has increased from age 30 to age 66, and the global population has increased from one billion to seven billion. Most of these advances have come from our ability to master’ the relationship between humans and the natural environment. 

At the same time, there are transnational health hazards like chemical pollution, nuclear radiation, global warming and biodiversity loss. New analysis from a planetary health perspective suggests that gains in human health status come at the cost of future generations. In this course you will use a case-based pedagogy and explore: a) the physical, chemical and biological threats to health from various sources (the air, water, land); b) the resulting disease types (e.g. infectious, non-communicable, injuries); c) the effect on individuals, communities and ecosystems; and d) the role of the State, the market and civil society in anticipating and responding to the environmental determinants of health. You will describe environmental determinants of disease, the social, biological and ecological pathways by which they operate, and the levels at which they can be prevented. Learn how to critically evaluate the epidemiological evidence for environmentally-mediated illness and analyse health policy and practice from an ecological public health perspective.