Over the last several decades, the human impact on the Earth’s climate has exponentially increased, initiating an environmental crisis that threatens the sustainability of our planet and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. This course examines the implications of the anthropogenic disruption of the planet’s ecosystems for human health and health care, from changing ecologies of infectious disease to increased exposure to environmental toxins and natural hazards.
We will analyze the structural causes of environmental change by investigating how an economic system oriented towards limitless extraction, social relations rooted in consumption and competition, and cultural assumptions about human dominion over nature affect not just the natural environment, but the social distribution of health, wealth, and resources. In doing so, we will pay particular attention to how the adverse health effects of environmental change disproportionately impact already vulnerable communities, compounding systemic injustice and economic inequality. The class will reflect on the ways in which climate change is relevant to not only the health of patients, but to the integrity of clinical practice and functioning of health care systems by considering how it disrupts all conditions of care—from supply chains to infrastructure—increasing cost and undermining public health. Finally, the course will illustrate strategies that nurses are already implementing to respond to the structural causes of the climate crisis and offer tools for building a democratic and just transition to a more sustainable future.
Course Objectives :
Upon completion of this class, participants will be able to:
- Grasp the fundamental science and terms of climate change and familiarize students with contemporary studies of anthropogenic climate disruption.
- Link environmental change to health and healthcare determinants and demonstrate how it disproportionately affects already-vulnerable populations, including in the Global South and economically disenfranchised communities everywhere.
- Articulate the structural causes of climate-induced health issues and the social forces that create environmental inequalities.
- Offer strategies for counteracting environmental injustice, addressing climate change, and “justly transitioning” to democratic and sustainable energy systems.
Times and Credits: 10am - 2pm. The class is worth 3 CEH