Healthy Places: COVID-19 and Cities

The connections between health, well-being, and place are complex. This class uses COVID-19 as a starting point for examining how to make healthier places. It examines the health situation in different kinds of places and among key population groups. It explores how to assess environments and how to make changes that reflect knowledge from multiple disciplines and from local people.
 
The class will be divided into two streams—input and action. In the input part of the class students will engage readings, interact with authors, and discuss ideas. In the action component individuals and groups of students will develop an approach to improving well-being and health in places. These projects may engage clients or be more speculative.
 
Throughout the class students will also reflect on some larger questions. Can the ways that places are planned and designed improve health? What are the key health issues that should concern those in planning and related fields? Does the work of incorporating health issues into planning and design processes always add value? Is evidence-based practice really an improvement over business-as-usual? What is the relationship between the different approaches to incorporating health into planning and design practice: health assessments, built projects, regulations and policies, interagency coordination, and programs to change how places are used?
 
By the end of the course a student will be able to:
– Recognize the many determinants of health including, but not limited to, built environments.
– Understand, analyze, and evaluate research related to health and places.
– Comprehend the potentials and limitations of using research to create evidence-based interventions.
– Appreciate the roles of different disciplines, and of local knowledge, in working on issues connecting health and places.
– Identify points of leverage in designing and regulating the physical built environment, creating policies related to how it is used, and developing programs set in the built environment.
– Use tools for assessing environments and for creating healthier places.
– Articulate their own perspective on the relationship between health and place.