The environments in which we live, work and play invariably affect public health. In fact, environmental exposures – most of which can be prevented – account for nearly one quarter of all diseases worldwide.
The Environmental Health Solutions concentration, housed in the Gillings School's Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, will equip you with the skills and know-how to predict and identify environmental problems and mitigate their impacts on human health.
Elizabeth Christenson, environmental sciences and engineering student, tests the water quality in a waterway. As a Boren Fellowship awardee, she uses her scientific training to support community-based public health and disease prevention initiatives in the Middle East.
What You’ll Learn
As a master of Public Health (MPH) student in the Environmental Health Solutions concentration, you will gain the skills to:
- Critically examine various types of environmental health threats (such as climate change and severe weather, particulate matter, lead in drinking water, mold and work-related hazards);
- Quantitatively assess health risks and exposure levels;
- Link risks and exposures back to their sources;
- Understand how environmental agents can alter biological responses and lead to morbidity and mortality;
- Lead interdisciplinary teams to identify and implement appropriate management and abatement strategies for disease and injury prevention; and
- Devise and evaluate policy and behavioral health solutions.
Through collaborative work led by internationally renowned experts in environmental health, science and policy within the top public school of public health in the nation, you will graduate uniquely positioned to advance environmental health solutions.
As the world becomes ever more globally connected and climate and environmental changes pose a greater threat to humans and the natural environment, there is an urgent need for more well-educated professionals who are trained to identify environmental health risks and design, implement and evaluate interventions that protect public health.
Environmental health solutions have far-reaching implications for the field of public health, and the skills and knowledge you will accrue through this program are relevant to a wide range of sectors. Our alumni – a network now over 2,000 strong – actively help solve environmental health problems across diverse workplace settings, including:
- Government and regulatory agencies (such as health departments, water and sanitation departments, and the EPA, NIH, WHO and CDC);
- Industrial health and safety offices;
- Special interest organizations;
- Companies; and
- Consulting firms.
Learn more about the career opportunities that await you with an MPH from the Gillings School.
“I currently am working on the WaSH MEL project, which is dedicated to creating, sharing and implementing cutting-edge monitoring, evaluation and learning tools for water, sanitation and hygiene practitioners. Since most of the projects are public health related, I have been able to apply much of the knowledge I learned in the classroom, especially skills related to data analysis and interpretation.”
Required Courses and Practical Experience
In addition to the interdisciplinary, 12-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take:
- ENVR 430: Health Effects of Environmental Agents
- ENVR 500: Environmental Processes, Exposure and Risk Assessment
- ENVR 580: Policy Design for Environmental Health Solutions
- Two courses (400 level or above) that meet individual topics of interest, such as:
- Global climate change
- Water and sanitation policy
- Community-driven research and environmental justice
- Space-time exposure mapping and risk assessment
- Health hazards of industrial operations
- Environmental chemical processes
To be prepared for this concentration, you should have a bachelor’s degree with coursework in at least two of the following areas: biology, chemistry, calculus and nursing.
In addition to coursework, this concentration will offer you practical, hands-on experience:
- You will engage in applied learning experiences in a professional setting, tackling real-world environmental and public health issues.
- You will develop strong teamwork skills by working in interdisciplinary groups.
You also will have the opportunity to lead a project in environmental crisis management (ENVR 989).
This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:
- Weigh the scientific bases of hazard identification, exposure and health risk assessment to support environmental management and policy.
- Identify and evaluate the relationships between sources of environmental contaminants and processes that affect the movement, transformations, exposure pathways and health effects of contaminants in environmental systems.
- Describe and critically evaluate the rational for and approaches used to measure and model properties of environmental/human systems.
- Evaluate effective actions or interventions that improve environmental health outcomes, and be able to compare and assess programs, policies, engineering solutions and/or other approaches to achieve these outcomes.
- Examine and critique ethical and legal dimensions of public health and environmental interventions on individuals and communities.
Want to learn more?