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 ENV H 536; Sp.
Health impact assessment (HIA) is a public health tool 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. While HIAs are commonly used in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, HIAs are an emerging practice in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/hia.htm). This course is particularly appropriate for students interested in the links between public health and community design. In the course, students consider the rationale for conducting HIAs, learn the necessary steps to conduct an HIA, review national and international case studies, and discuss how HIA findings may impact decision making. Then students work collaboratively to conduct a detailed HIA of the health aspects of a current proposed project or plan. For Spring Quarter 2013, this project was an HIA of the Tacoma South Downtown Subarea Plan, with assistance from the City of Tacoma Planning Department. During the course, students participated in a field visit to Tacoma and attended a public hearing about the subarea plan. The project or plan for the Spring 2014 course will be arranged in the months before the start of the course.
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
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%