Environmental health policy consists of the laws, regulations, public initiatives and investments that a society and its governmental and non-governmental bodies pursue in order to balance the sometimes competing aims of economic development, environmental sustainability, and human health and wellbeing. Few areas of public policy are as controversial or undergo such wide swings in priorities depending on who controls political power.
Our research seeks to impact environmental health policy by developing rigorous evidence on a wide range of environmental factors affecting human and planetary health, including climate change and economic development. We explore the equity of environmental policies and their differential impacts on under-represented populations. We also emphasize the need for effective dissemination of such research, not only in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences, but also though innovative channels using social media and policy partners.
Our teaching familiarizes students with the core US and state environmental and occupational health laws and administrative agencies, as well corresponding international commitments and the UN and other organizations that administer them. We develop skills in policy analysis, including mapping of stakeholders and interests, to identify potential opportunities for re-aligning objectives and building consensus. We also emphasize negotiation, cooperation and compromise as essential tools for achieving progress in environmental health.
Examples of Departmental Research in Environmental Health Policy:
- Working with the World Health Organization to develop the evidence base for its Guidelines on Sanitation and Health
- Providing technical assistance to the governments of Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam to develop standards and strategic plans for household water treatment
- Advocating for greater integration of core environmental health interventions in water/sanitation, air pollution and vector control
- Collaborating with World Health Organization to write guidance document on methods for evaluating household energy interventions
- Translating research into Lancet commentaries on gender priorities in environmental health