Cities today are facing some of the most difficult environmental health challenges in modern society. This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of how science, policy, and design impact environmental health by examining a range of topics from conservation, air quality, water quality, climate change, and food systems. The class aims to equip students with the conceptual and analytical tools needed to assess and mitigate the impacts of urbanization on people’s health and environment. Integrating the disciplines of environmental informatics, environmental science, and urban policy - the class will explore ways to leverage information and communication technologies to design connected, healthy and sustainable communities with the goal of making cities and citizens more resilient to future environmental problems.
The class is structured as both a discussion course and as a practicum. In the discussion component, readings, lectures, and group discussions explore a range of topics in the areas of environmental health, policy, and design. Discussions and student presentations focus on explorations of “green” design principles and the use of innovative information and communication technologies that seek to minimize the environmental impacts of urbanization. For each substantive area of the course, readings and lectures focus on the science, policy, health, and design aspects of a major resource issue within an urban context and discuss current design and technological approaches implemented to alleviate environmental challenges.
The practicum component of the course consists of a group project which leverages knowledge and skills gained in the course to develop innovative sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Integrating principles of science, policy, and design behind environmental planning and health, the projects will sharpen students’ technical skills enhancing their ability to creatively and collaboratively tackle challenging environmental problems.
The rise of information technology, pervasive communication systems, and big data has the potential to transform urban environments giving rise to what are commonly called “Smart Cities.” The creation, use, and dissemination of data and the translation of data into knowledge are important foci for urban environments. Working in this area requires that individuals are able to bridge disciplines from computer science, civil and environmental engineering, architecture, urban design, and urban planning. This class will begin with an in-depth discussion of how cities have evolved and how we can design cities in the future to leverage information and data in order to create smarter, more connected, and healthier communities.