Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrew Dannenberg
ENV H 536
Seattle Campus

Health Impact Assessment

Examines the use of Health Impact Assessment as a public health tool for informing decision-makers about the potential health impacts of proposed projects and policies. Students learn the steps for conducting HIAs, review case studies, and conduct an HIA of a current local proposed project. Offered: jointly with URBDP 536; Sp.

Class description

Health impact assessment (HIA) is a process used to inform decision-makers about the potential health impacts of proposed projects, programs, and policies that do not traditionally focus on health outcomes (e.g. transportation, education, housing), but are likely to affect the publicís health. HIAs are commonly used in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. Over the past decade, HIA practice has grown rapidly in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/hia.htm). This course is appropriate for students interested in evaluating the links between community design and public health and applying this evidence to inform decision-making for new policies and plans. In the course, students first consider the rationale for conducting HIAs, learn the steps to conduct an HIA, review national and international case studies, and discuss how HIA findings may impact decision-making. Then students conduct a detailed HIA of the health aspects of a currently proposed project or plan. For Spring Quarter 2014, this project will be an HIA of the update of the 2010 plan for Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle, with assistance for obtaining project information from the Executive Director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. During the course, students will participate in a field visit to Pioneer Square and possibly attend a public hearing about the plan.

Student learning goals

Describe the purpose, benefits, and challenges of using health impact assessments to convey information about health to decision-makers

Describe the core steps used to conduct HIAs including screening, scoping, assessment, making recommendations, reporting, and evaluation

Summarize the similarities and differences in using HIA as an approach separate from Environmental Impact Assessments

Collaborate effectively with others in completing an HIA in an interdisciplinary environment

Explain the application of HIAs to the policymaking process

General method of instruction

Faculty presentations, interactive discussions, collaborative student work on one main class project HIA, student presentations

Recommended preparation

Prior classes and/or experience in health and built environment, health policy, and urban planning issues are helpful but not required.

Class assignments and grading

Substantial reading assignments. 3 - 5 page paper critiquing an existing completed HIA. Student presentation of his/her analysis of existing completed HIA. Collaborative class HIA report on one specific project or plan with contributions by all students. Field trip to HIA project site strongly encouraged.

Class participation - 15% Contribution to HIA conducted as class project - 50% Three to five page paper and presentation analyzing an existing completed HIA - 35%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrew Dannenberg
Date: 04/02/2014