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 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 uses a health assessment of a real place to understand how to make places healthier in an evidence-based, inclusive, and efficient manner. Students will write sections of the health assessment as individuals or pairs, collaborate on an assessment workshop, and interact with a people who can make a difference using the results. It is in three sections:

  • The first part scopes out the health issues relevant to the larger health assessment. To help undertake this it examines the extent to which environments determine health outcomes and examines several key topics where location and built environment matter for health outcomes, from air quality to the geography of vulnerable populations.
  • The second part reviews methods of health impact assessment while conducting such an assessment using a wide range of data collection and analytical methods. This will include a prioritizing workshop.
  • Finally, the course reflects on health as a lens for rethinking planning and design approaches and look at models for multifaceted approaches to increasing health and wellness in places.

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 and regulating the physical built environment, creating policies related to how it is used, and developing programs set in the built environment.
  7. Be familiar with a number of tools for assessing how environments promote or undermine health and for creating healthier places.