Courses in the Boston area related to public health and planning.

If you would like to add a course or have any suggestions on how to improve this list, please email Peter James at pjames at hsph dot harvard dot edu.

Boston University School of Public Health

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  • EH818, The Built Environment: Design Solutions for Public Health. Russ Lopez. Taught every fall.
    • Recent concerns about health and the environment have prompted a reconnection of public health with urban planning. This course examines how the built environment, including buildings, neighborhoods and metropolitan areas, impacts health. Issues covered include obesity, physical activity and mental health. Current and past polices and programs such as zoning, urban renewal, highway construction, new urbanism and smart growth are critiqued using the frameworks of health, architecture and planning. New tools, such as green building standards, health impact assessment and evidence based design are discussed. The goal is to understand how patterns of development influence health and how urban form can be modified to promote healthier living.
    • This four credit course will meet Wednesday evenings (6:00 – 8:45) from September 3 to December 17.
    • For more information, email ude.ub|zepoltpr#ude.ub|zepoltpr
    • For a brief description, see here.
    • Keywords: Urban Planning, History, Equity, Land Use, Policy, Planning, Transportation

Harvard University School of Public Health

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  • SHH201, Society and Health. Ichiro Kawachi. Fall.
    • Lectures and case studies. Two 2-hour sessions and one 1-hour required lab each week. Analyzes major social variables that affect population health: poverty, social class, gender, race, family, community, work, behavioral risks, and coping resources. Examines health consequences of social and economic policies, and the potential role of specific social interventions. Reviews empirical and theoretical literature on mechanisms and processes that mediate between social factors and their health effects, and discusses alternative models for advancing public health. Course Activities: Short written assignments, class discussion, final examination.
    • Keywords: Equity
  • SHH293, Place, Migration, and Health. D. Acevedo-Garcia. Spring 2.
    • Lecture, seminars. Two 2-hour sessions each week. This course examines some features of spatial population distribution (e.g. residential segregation by race, concentration of poverty) and population movement (e.g. immigrant adaptation) that may influence health outcomes. The emphasis of the course is on understanding the public policies that may have shaped those features and the policies that are used or may be used to modify them (e.g. housing mobility policies, immigrant policies). The course has three objectives: (1) to introduce students to the substance of the relevant policies; (2) to review the available empirical evidence on the effect that those policies may have on health outcomes; and (3) to encourage students to develop research questions and research designs, and to identify data sets that would allow us to better examine the health effects of those policies. Course Activities: In-class discussions of assigned readings, one short (i.e. 10-15 double spaced page) paper outlining a place/migration policy and its possible effects on health outcomes.
    • Keywords: Equity
  • HPM524, Racial & Ethic Disparities in Health: Historical & Contemporary Issues. D. Prothrow-Stith, L. Clayton, B. Gibbs, W. Byrd. Spring 2.
    • Lecture, case studies, seminars. One 2.5-hour session each week. This course comprehensively explores racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care in the United States. It examines the relationships between race, medicine, and health care while establishing the origins and evolution of race-, class-, ethnic-, gender-, and cultural-based disparities as critical measures and dilemmas in the U.S. health system and its predecessor Western societies. Students will gain an understanding of the key operational variables impacting health disparities that are deeply ingrained in the medical-social fabric of the U.S. health system. Utilizing the African American health experience as a principal surrogate, alongside the experiences of other disadvantaged and immigrant populations, the course chronicles the 400- year continuum leading to the contemporary racial and ethnic health and health care disparities. It makes the connection between the nation's historical tradition of disparate health and health care based on race, ethnicity, and class and today's burgeoning health services literature on the subject. Leading causes of morbidity and mortality, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and AIDS which differentially impact health status and outcomes in disadvantaged communities, and how an already stressed health system responds to them, will be explored and contextualized. Building upon a fact-based foundation the course will also provide a forum for conceptualizing and developing new paradigms and strategies for eliminating racial and ethnic health and health care disparities through methods such as health policy, health system restructuring and reform, and cross cultural skills development. Students will develop culturally relevant, sensitive, and appropriate cross-cultural skills necessary to recognize personal and institutionalized bias which interferes with clinical decision-making, health policy, and health system structural development, all of which impact health status.
    • Keywords: Equity
  • BIO504, Introduction to Geographical Information Systems Using ArcGIS. S. Srinivasan, C. Paciorek. Winter.
    • Lectures. Five 3.5 hour sessions each week. This course introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their applications. GIS is a combination of software and hardware with capabilities for manipulating, analyzing and displaying spatially referenced information. Emphasis on learning practical skills using ArcGIS software. Five combined lecture/lab sessions.
    • Keywords: GIS, Methods
  • ID285, Environmental Health Risk: Concepts and Cases. K. Thompson. Winter. Every other year.
    • Seminars. Fourteen 2.5-hour sessions during January. This course engages the students in a series of lectures on concepts and interactive case studies to introduce the use of a risk analysis framework as an approach to managing environmental health and safety, and other hazards. The course deals with the complexity of contemporary issues in risk perception, assessment, management, and communication using a case-method approach, and it meets the environmental health requirement for professional master's degree programs with a policy-oriented perspective. The course emphasizes communication and applied decision making.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health
  • ID506, Theory and Practice of Public Health in the United States. H. Koh, D. Walker. Fall.
    • Lectures, case studies. One 2-hour session each week. This course provides a theoretical foundation for and field examples of the practice of public health. Students interact with a variety of expert practitioners and apply their analytic skills to emerging public health issues. Students will be introduced to the ways in which government, medicine, community organizations, civic associations, and academia support the core functions of public health. The course provides students with an understanding of the range of professional and academic endeavors contributing to the public health infrastructure.
    • Keywords: Introduction to Public Health
  • EH253, Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality. S. Rudnick, L. DiBerardinis. Spring. Every other year.
    • Lectures, laboratory sessions, field trip. One 2-hour session each week. This course covers the ventilation systems used to protect industrial workers and to provide healthy indoor air quality in buildings. Course Activities: Class discussion, problem-solving, assignments, "hands-on" activities.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health
  • EH257, Water Pollution. J. Shine. Spring.
    • Lectures. Two 2-hour sessions each week. This course is designed to teach an understanding of the basic principles of water pollution and water pollution issues on local, regional and global scales. The course will begin with a discussion of the basic chemical, physical and biological properties of water and water contaminants. Subsequent lectures will cover specific chemical and biological contaminants in ground, surface, and marine waters; sources, fate, transport, and transformation of contaminants; monitoring techniques, water source protection and resource management; water and wastewater treatment; transmission of waterborne disease; toxicological concerns of chemicals in water, including disinfection byproducts; and interactions with the air and land environments. Invited lecturers will cover issues such as harmful algal blooms, groundwater modeling, coastal zone management, and regulatory approaches for aquatic ecosystem protection. Course Activities: Class discussions, homework assignments, exams and final project.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health
  • EH278. Human Health and Global Environmental Change. P. Epstein, E. Chivian, D.Goodenough, M. Perry. Spring. Not offered 2007-2008.
    • Lectures. One 4-hour session each week. Human activity is changing the atmosphere and altering terrestrial and marine ecosystems on a global scale for the first time in history. Evidence is mounting that these changes may already be having serious effects on human health, and there is growing concern that in coming decades the effects could be catastrophic. This course will provide an overview of the basic physics, chemistry, and biology of global environmental change, and of the potential consequences of these changes for human health. It will cover global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, the effects of toxic substance pollution on global ecosystems, the degradation of terrestrial and marine environments, the loss of species and biodiversity, and the impact of these factors on human health. The role of rapidly growing human populations and of patterns of resource use and waste disposal in the genesis of environmental change will be examined. A multi-disciplinary faculty will provide an integrated assessment of these issues. The course will be open to all students at Harvard University, but preference will be given to students from HSPH, HMS, and KSG, as well as to Environmental Science Public Policy majors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health, Climate Change, Sustainability

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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  • GSD 5101, Histories and Theories of Urban Interventions. Thomas Campanella. Spring.
    • Beginning with the mid 19th century city, this course surveys a broad range of urban interventions. These include transportation and infrastructural engineering, settlement houses, landscape design, and real estate development, among others. Urban planning and urban design are situated with them as part of a larger discourse about the problems and possibilities of urban life. American and European examples are used as case studies demonstrating the complex mix of social, cultural, political and economic factors that shape urban processes and the built environment. Topics include the industrial city, utopian towns, the inner city, decentralization and suburbs, the metropolis, housing, urban renewal and edge cities.
    • Keywords: Transportation, Land Use, Planning, History
  • GSD 5475, The Design of Housing in the United States. Leland Cott. Spring.
    • This course will investigate architectural, urban design and planning-related components of the design of multi-family housing. Drawing largely from the completed work of the instructor, weekly presentations and discussions will consider those aspects of the design of housing that are critical for successful residential and community development. Program formulation, development economics, client/community participation, and design intent are among the topics to be discussed.
    • Keywords: Housing, Planning
  • GSD 5476, Housing Delivery Systems in the United States James Stockard. Spring
    • This course will examine the process by which housing is produced in the United States. The course considers the primary actors in the delivery system, including consumers, developers, lenders, regulators, subsidy providers, and others. A substantial focus will be placed on the three types of developers, private for-profit companies, private non-profit organizations (including CDCs) and public agencies. The class will examine the history of each type of developer, the goals that motivate them, the parts of the housing market to which they respond, and the tools and techniques they use in their work. Attention will be given to the interaction among the various actors and changes that might improve the system.
    • Keywords: Housing, Planning
  • GSD 6322, Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Applications. Paul Cote. Spring.
    • A university education should prepare students to handle information. We handle information in order to better understand problems and opportunities. We mix information with ideas to form models, which generate new information that may help us to understand how aspects of the world may interact with extant processes or with interventions we may be considering. If our understanding is to have effect in the world, we must learn to present information and ideas effectively. University-educated scholars should be familiar with conventions and technologies for compiling and documenting data, have a critical understanding of how information is extracted from data, and an appreciation of techniques for presenting information and associated ideas effectively.
    • Linking independent pieces of data to create new information is an ancient craft that has been shifted into overdrive by information systems and the internet. Spatial databases and Geographical Information Systems are of particular interest in this regard owing to the fact that spatial referencing systems, even those in use thousands of years ago, are easily reconciled and transformed such that any spatially referenced information may be cross-referenced — even if the original compilers of such information never envisioned this potential. Today vast amounts of administrative and commercial information are being developed and maintained that have this capacity. As independently generated and maintained databases grow in number, the new information that may potentially be gleaned in the combination of databases grows exponentially. Particularly now, as the technical barriers to sharing information recede into history, each of us — especially leaders in scholarship and decisionmaking — have a responsibility to understand the issues and technical details involved with compiling and sharing spatially referenced information.
    • To create new information using data is easy. It is somewhat more difficult and much more important to understand the utility of the new information that we create or that is presented to us. A framework for evaluating (for a given puropose) data and models and the information derived from them gives us a basis for making the best possible models; for presenting information responsibly and effectively; and ultimately for having an appropriate level of confidence in our decisions or assumptions. As with studies of rhetorical composition, new ideas created by transforming information with logical procedures can be evaluated by examining critical aspects of the data inputs and intervening procedures, along with the logical rationale behind their assembly. Developing a formal understanding and technical capacity for composing, sharing, and evaluating complex arguments that use spatial data is the goal of this course.
    • First Module: Gathering and Sharing GIS Data Layers The first half of the course explores the Nouns of GIS. Students choose a site (in the United States) and compile a base dataset from various sources, including circulation, hydrography, landmarks, georeferenced aerial photography and scanned maps, demographic data, terrain and land cover. This dataset will serve as the basis for several analytical statements about the site and its context with maps that serve to illustrate the text. The product for each student at mid-term is a 10-page (more or less) document of text and maps, along with a well-documented geographic dataset compiled on CD in a scholarly manner, suitable for sharing. The content of this first module deals as much with the principles of cartography as with technical details of data handling.
    • Second Module: GIS-Based Inquiry The focus of second half of the course is on building and evaluating complex statements using the associative or transforming operations of GIS to derive new information. We will examine the major computational models for spatial analysis: Relational Database Management Systems, Vector-Relational GIS, Raster-based cartographic modeling systems, and Image Processing systems, in terms of their generative history, and the particular phenomena that they were intended and adapted to represent. Each of these computational models will be broken down into the critical aspects of the structures that they provide for organizing representations and references, and the vocabulary of procedures that each type of GIS provides for generating new information through association or transformation of data.
    • Keywords: GIS, Methods

Harvard University Kennedy School of Government

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  • HUT-266, Affordable Housing Development, Finance and Management. Edward Marchant. Spring.
    • Explores issues relating to the development, financing, and management of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households. Examines community-based development corporations, public housing authorities, housing finance agencies, and financial intermediaries. Identifies, defines, and analyzes development cost, operating, debt service, and rental assistance subsidy vehicles. Assesses alternative debt and equity funding sources for both rental and for-sale mixed-income housing and addresses the increasingly common practice of aggregating multiple subsidies into a single financial package. Reviews other aspects of the affordable housing development process, including assembling and managing the development team, preparing feasibility studies, controlling sites, gaining community support, securing subsidies, coordinating the design and construction process, selecting tenants, providing supportive services, and managing the completed asset. The course includes lectures, cases, exercises, site visits, guest lectures, and student presentations.
    • Keywords: Housing, Policy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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  • 11.370, Brownfields Policy and Practice. James Hamilton. Spring.
    • There are several hundred thousand brownfield sites across the country. The large number of sites, combined with the fact that a majority of these properties are located in urban and historically underserved communities, dictate that redevelopment of these sites stands to be a common challenge to urban planners for the foreseeable future. Students develop a grounded understanding of the brownfield lifecycle: how and why they were created, their potential role in community revitalization, the role of community-based organizations in spurring their redevelopment, and the general processes governing their redevelopment. Using case studies, field projects, and guest speakers from the public, private and non-profit sectors, students develop and hone skills to effectively address the problems posed by these inactive sites.
    • Keywords: Brownfields, Environmental Health, Planning, Policy, Equity
  • 11.410J, Cities and Regions: Urban Economics and Public Policy. Joint Subject: 14.573J. William Wheaton. Spring.
    • The theory of urban land and housing markets, and the spatial development of cities. The roles played by transportation systems and local governments in shaping urban location patterns. Interregional competition, economic development, and the migration of labor and capital.
    • Keywords: Economics, Policy, Transportation, Planning
  • 11.469, Urban Sociology in Theory and Practice. Diane Davis. Spring.
    • Introduction to core writings in urban sociology. Topics include: the changing nature of community, social inequality, political power, socio-spatial change, technological change, and the relationship between the built environment and human behavior. Examine key theoretical paradigms that have constituted the field since its founding, assess how and why they have changed over time, and discuss the implications of these paradigmatic shifts for urban scholarship, social policy and the planning practice. Explore the nature and changing character of the city and the urban experience, including the larger social, political, and economic dynamics of urban change, to enhance appreciation of contemporary, comparative, and historical context in which urban planning skills and sensibilities have been developed and could be applied.
    • Keywords: Equity
  • 11.479J, Water and Sanitation Infrastructure in Developing Countries. Joint Subject: 1.851J. Susan Murcott. Spring.
    • Principles of infrastructure planning in developing countries, with a focus on appropriate and sustainable technologies for water and sanitation. Incorporates technical, socio-cultural, public health, and economic factors into the planning and design of water and sanitation systems. Upon completion, students are able to plan simple, yet reliable, water supply and sanitation systems for developing countries that are compatible with local customs and available human and material resources. Graduate and upper division students from any department who are interested in international development at the grassroots level are encouraged to participate in this interdisciplinary subject.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health
  • 11.521, Spatial Database Management and Advanced Geographic Information Systems. Joseph Ferreira. Spring.
    • Extends the computing and geographic information systems (GIS) skills developed in 11.520 to include spatial data management in client/server environments and advanced GIS techniques. First half covers the content of 11.523, introducing database management concepts, SQL (Structured Query Language), and enterprise-class database management software. Second half explores advanced features and the customization features of GIS software that perform analyses for decision support that go beyond basic thematic mapping. Includes the half-semester GIS project of 11.524 that studies a real-world planning issue.
    • Keywords: GIS, Methods
  • 11.526, Comparative Land Use and Transportation Planning. Joint Subject: 1.251J. Christopher Zegras. Spring.
    • Focuses on the integration of land use and transportation planning, drawing from cases in both industrialized and developing countries. Reviews underlying theories, analytical techniques, and the empirical evidence of the land use-transportation relationship at the metropolitan, intra-metropolitan, and micro-scales. Also covers the various ways of measuring urban structure, form, and the "built environment." Develops students' skills to assess relevant policies, interventions and impacts.
    • Keywords: Planning, Land Use, Transportation
  • 11.543J, Transportation Policy and Environmental Limits. Joint Subject: 1.253J/ESD.222J. Joseph Coughlin, Frederick Salvucci. Spring.
    • Through a combination of lectures, cases, and class discussions the subject examines the economic and political conflict between transportation and the environment. Investigates the role of government regulation, green business and transportation policy as a facilitator of economic development and environmental sustainability. Analyzes a variety of international policy problems including government-business relations, the role of interest groups, non-governmental organizations, and the public and media in the regulation of the automobile; sustainable development; global warming; politics of risk and siting of transport facilities; environmental justice; equity; as well as transportation and public health in the urban metropolis. Provides students with an opportunity to apply transportation and planning methods to develop policy alternatives in the context of environmental politics.
    • Keywords: Transportation, Planning, Environmental Health, Sustainability, Climate Change, Equity
  • 11.631J, Regulation of Chemicals, Radiation, and Biotechnology. Joint Subject: 1.812J/ESD.134J. Nicholas Ashford. Spring.
    • Description: Focuses on policy design and evaluation in the regulation of hazardous substances and processes. Includes risk assessment, industrial chemicals, pesticides, food contaminants, pharmaceuticals, radiation and radioactive wastes, product safety, workplace hazards, indoor air pollution, biotechnology, victims' compensation, and administrative law. Health and economic consequences of regulation, as well as its potential to spur technological change, are discussed.
    • Keywords: Environmental Health, Policy

Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

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