Harvard and Yale students unite for planetary health

Participants in the Harvard-Yale planetary health workshop
Participants in the Harvard-Yale planetary health workshop

November 28, 2017—Harvard and Yale may be centuries-old rivals, but when it comes to protecting the health of people and the planet, the two universities are united.

On October 7-8, 2017, members of the Sustainability and Health Student Forum at the Harvard Chan School co-organized a workshop on planetary health with the Health and Environment at Yale (HEY) student group. A newly emerging field, planetary health is “focused on characterizing the linkages between human-caused disruptions of earth’s natural systems and the resulting impacts on public health,” according to the Planetary Health Alliance, which is based in the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The workshop, held at Yale, educated students about planetary health, enabled them to share project ideas and other resources, and explored potential opportunities for further collaboration.

“Planetary health is not just a new scientific discipline. It’s a paradigm that has the power to build bridges across differences because it spans different issues, disciplines, sectors, and geographies that at the end of the day are all interconnected,” said Renzo Guinto, a Doctor of Public Health student and president and founder of the Sustainability and Health Student Forum. “There is no better way to start than to bring age-old rivals together to become a united force for human and ecosystem health.”

Toward the end of the workshop, participants developed a Statement of Collaboration, which synthesized the lessons learned and laid out next steps. Those include recruiting more schools in New England and organizing another workshop in the spring of 2018.

– Noah Leavitt

 photo: Health and Environment at Yale (HEY)