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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrew Dannenberg
URBDP 538
Seattle Campus

Public Health and the Built Environment

Examines how the design of communities and land use and transportation decision have positive and adverse effects on health. Considers built environment impacts on physical activity, obesity, air quality, injuries, mental health, social capital, and environmental justice; and explores interventions to promote healthy community design. Offered: jointly with ENV H 538; W.

Class description

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the increasing recognition that the design of communities can impact human health. Community designs that feature parks, sidewalks, trails, public transit, and connectivity among destinations can encourage physical activity, help prevent obesity and its associated health consequences, and reduce dependence on automobiles whose use contributes to air pollution, motor vehicle crashes, and pedestrian injuries. Increased attention to the health implications of the built environment has led to various innovative solutions, such as mixed-use Smart Growth developments, investments in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and the use of health impact assessments to convey health information to community decision-makers.

Student learning goals

Explain how the built environment impacts public health both positively and negatively

Critique the literature regarding health and built environment including its strengths and weaknesses

Describe the methods used to assess the built environment and its impact on health

Describe the options available to promote healthy community design decisions

Summarize the benefits of and barriers to working in an interdisciplinary environment

General method of instruction

Lectures, guest speakers, interactive discussions, class assignments, reflections on readings

Recommended preparation

Interest in public health, urban planning, and related topics

Class assignments and grading

Substantial reading assignments. Textbook: Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability. www.makinghealthyplaces.com. Written reflections on reading assignments. Field activity: walkability audit or park audit with classmate partner. 3-5 page written paper describing how one could conduct a research project on a healthy community design topic. Two minute oral testimony on health concerns about a selected built environment project as if in front of a city council

Class participation 15% Walkability or park audit 25% 3-5 page paper on research topic 25% Two minute oral testimony 25% Written comments on readings 10%


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: 06/13/2013