For more than 100 years, our Department has advanced the field of Environmental Health through hands-on learning and training, and translates evidence-based on research. We have a vibrant and rich history of guiding public discourse, and national and international leaders, on the most pressing environmental health challenges in the twenty-first-century. To better serve communities’ changing health, we employ innovative strategies and solutions to increase public awareness. Our work in laboratories, field studies, and cohort studies has provided the basis of environmental and occupational health on humans. Members of our Department create and advance our knowledge of harmful exposures and translate their discoveries into actions that ultimately improve people’s health. Our centers, faculty, students, and staff engage in service activities to expand the capacity of communities by training, mentoring, and empowering the next world leaders.
The Department of Environmental Health pursues innovative research and offers interdisciplinary training in environmental health, emphasizing the role of air, water, contaminants in food and consumer products, the built environment, and the workplace as critical determinants of public health. Faculty members study the pathogenesis and prevention of environmentally produced illnesses, injury and disability, ergonomics and safety, climate change, occupational hygiene, environmental management and sustainability, and are leaders in, and facilitators of, scientifically based public health advances. Faculty research areas include a multi-disciplinary approach ranging from molecular and physiologic studies, exposure assessment and control, engineering, epidemiology, risk assessment to policy evaluation.
The department examines complex problems that require the contributions of many specialties. The faculty, research staff, and students reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the field and include chemists, engineers, epidemiologists, practitioners, occupational hygienists, urban planners, climatologists, applied mathematicians, physicians, nurses, physiologists, cell biologists, molecular biologists, and microbiologists.
Additional information about the Department of Environmental Health can be found at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/environmental-health/
To learn about the Department of Environmental Health’s faculty, go to:
Students choose one of the following Areas of Interest:
- Climate and Sustainability (starting Fall 2024): Public Health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked and they can be mutually beneficial. However, our planet and public health are at risk. Climate change represents one of the most pressing issues of our time, affecting every nation and person. Sustainability is important to address and protect our planet. This program covers climate change, its effects on public health, and ways to mitigate the impacts through sustainability. Courses explore the effects of energy production and climate change on food, water, air, soil, food systems, e waste, environmental justice, and human health, through the lens of social justice and health equity. There will be an optional activity for direct community engagement and outreach.
- Environmental Health Epidemiology: focuses on identifying and measuring the influence of physical, chemical, and biological environmental factors on human disease in communities to provide scientific evidence for sound environmental and health policies.
- Environmental Health Exposures: emphasizes the chemical, physical, microbiological, and engineering aspects of environmental and occupational exposures and the identification and characterization of human and ecological exposures to environmental contaminants, and in modeling their fate and transport, to develop strategies to control environmental hazards, allergens, and pathogens.
- Environmental Health Occupational Health: focuses on workplace and environmental hazards, the physiological and biomechanical aspects of work, the risks posed by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors, and a practical approach to solving health problems in various work and community settings. This program is designed for physicians and other professionals who intend to practice occupational medicine or to hold responsible positions in occupational policy and management.
- Environmental Health Risk Sciences: focuses on integrated education in risk and decision science in the context of environmental health – including exposure assessment, epidemiology and toxicology – built on the principles of decision analysis and intended to support and advance decision making under uncertainty.
- Environmental Justice: this area of study will focus on the disparities in environmental exposure and associated health outcomes, considering macro- and micro-level factors that impact communities and strategies for solution-oriented approaches, including discussion of research translation, implementation science, environmental health literacy, and other key topic areas. Theoretical frameworks, analytic approaches, and practical applications will be addressed in the context of sociohistorical processes, stakeholders, and agency that can be learned from and engaged with to improve environmental health inequities.
The Environmental Health Master of Science Curriculum Guide is available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/environmental-health/master-of-science-curriculum-guide/