Healthy Places

Can the way places are planned and designed improve health? It seems obvious that there is such a link between environments and health but how important is it? What are the key health issues that should concern those in planning and related fields? Does incorporating health issues into planning and design processes always add value? This course focuses on how to make places healthier in an evidence-based, inclusive, and efficient manner. It is in three sections:

  • The first part, on health and place basics, examines the extent to which environments determine health outcomes and how the understanding of this relationship between people and places had evolved over time.
  • Next, the class examines several key topics where location and built environment matter for health outcomes, from air quality to the geography of vulnerable populations.
  • Finally, the course focuses on tools to integrate health into urban planning and design.

By the end of the course a student will be able to:

  1. Recognize key concepts and debates pertaining to the relationship between health and places.
  2. Appreciate the many determinants of health including, but not limited to, built environments.
  3. Understand, analyze, and evaluate research related to health and places.
  4. Comprehend the potentials and limitations of using research to create evidence-based interventions.
  5. Appreciate the roles of different disciplines, and of local knowledge, in working on issues connecting health and places.
  6. Identify points of leverage in designing the physical built environment, creating policies related to how it is used (e.g. making it hard to park), and developing programs set in the built environment (e.g. walking, school buses).
  7. Be familiar with a number of tools for assessing how environments promote or undermine health and for creating healthier places.