Nourishing a Healthy Society: Holistic Wellness
This piece is part of a series on how universities and colleges around the world are integrating theories of sustainability into traditional majors to give students the skills they need to build a more sustainable future for all.
Where to Study: The Harvard School of Public Health and Evergreen State College
At the Harvard School of Public Health students within the Department of Environmental Health take a multidisciplinary approach to studying how environmental factors affect our health. Students concentrating in Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk get the training they need to investigate health risks and to provide scientific evidence for environmental and health policies.
Other programs within the school of Public Health include the Department of Biostatistics, the Department of Global Health and Population and the Department of Society, Human Development and Health.
Check out the slides and video from this recent Harvard symposium series for an inside look at the Future of Public Health.
Creating a more sustainable society will mean expanding our idea of sustainability to include the health and wellness of the public as well as the environment. This means not only addressing the needs of patients once they have come to health care professionals, but also focusing on prevention by taking a more holistic view to consider all the aspects that affect our health. Health Impact Assessments are one example of a way that cities are already addressing these concerns, but we expect to see many new developments in this field in the coming decades.
Other universities offer different approaches to holistic wellness, such as The Evergreen State College’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Here students learn how to cultivate the land while causing the least harm to the earth. Students within this program study topics like soil science and nutrient cycling. Although dissimilar in many ways from a degree in Public Health, these students will also play a role in increasing the health and wellness of the population in the long-term. Growing good, healthy food for our growing population to eat is an important part of the public health puzzle, which will hopefully help to prevent chronic illness and disease seen later in life.
A career in health may mean many things for students entering this field. From nurses and doctors to policy makers and administrators, alternative medicine practitioners to organic farmers, creating a population of healthy people in the future will take the involvement of many different types of professionals.
More Places to Study
Universities offering programs in Public Health
Universities offering programs in Sustainable Agriculture
Images by Morgan Greenseth
Boston University's school of public health is also worth a mention. Their environmental health program, in particular, has a strong record of community involvement, and progressive thinking about the health implications of urban design. http://sph.bu.edu/
Try Clayton College of Natural Heath. www.ccnh.edu