Graduation year: 2021
Semester/year area of interest proposed: Spring 2020
Major status: ENVS single major
Other major (if applicable):
Minor(s) (if applicable):
Rising temperatures, increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, threats to food security, and of course opportunistic diseases present a complex landscape of physical well-being that medical professionals can’t be expected to deal with effectively without institutional changes. Adaptive management strategies aim to expand the capacity of health care systems by assessing vulnerability based on population and location; model risk projections; and inform decisions through interdisciplinary cooperation (Hoover et al. 2015, 1102-03).
Increased emergence of infectious diseases, particularly zoonoses, has caused approaches to public health to shift. There have been efforts over the past few decades to take a more coordinated, preventative tact on viral infections. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H1N1 have prompted research into predicting outbreaks (Ahmed 2011, 52). This has led to a great deal of evidence that the rise in emergent diseases is anthropogenically driven. Population density, mobility, land use, and proximity to non-human animals are all factors used to identify “hot spots”. These identifications allow for resources to be managed more efficiently, both to discover contagious pathogens and to better distribute expertise based on susceptibility rather than funding (Morse et al. 2012, 1956).
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that preemptive action is necessary to avoid future threats to health and economic security. Fauci et al. highlight the importance of early research of any emerging disease in order to better understand how it may affect the host and spread might occur. Preliminary studies on COVID-19 in China provided key insights on the virus’ high rate of transmission and asymptomatic cases inadvertently infecting more vulnerable demographics. On-going work includes genetic testing to try and gain information on susceptibility and recovery. “Critical to moving the field forward, even in the context of an outbreak, is ensuring that investigational products are evaluated in scientifically and ethically sound studies” (Fauci et al. 2020, 1269). In working towards improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, there are also lessons to be learned in regards to social behavior. The goal is to get the reproduction rate below one and return to normalcy, however there would still be many barriers to that reality even if a vaccine were discovered today.
Technology is a useful tool in expanding the capacity of health care systems. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most medical appointments are being conducted remotely in order to prevent exposure. Further, institutions outside of medicine, such as businesses and universities, are attempting to keep customers and staff updated via the internet as part of the public health effort (Hollander and Carr 2020, 3). Technology is aiding health care beyond the reduction of disease exposure by alleviating some of the limits to access experienced outside of a pandemic. The decentralization of expertise through educational tools that allow patients to help themselves as well as remote communication with medical staff provides service to many who would otherwise face barriers in physical or monetary mobility (McMichael 2013, 1341).
Eight percent of the world’s doctors and 17 percent of nurses work in The United States, a country containing only four percent of the global population (Crisp and Chen 2014, 950). Not only is this distribution unfair to the rest of the world, it begs the question as to why so many people in the US don’t have adequate access to health care. Local and global medical systems must adapt to the challenges that come with climate change, globalization, and a growing population. In order to do this, it’s important to recognize all stakeholders involved and develop a collaborative response to emerging public health issues. While health care providers have a unique capability and therefore responsibility to educate people on day-to-day environmental risks and encourage planning in case of emergency (Allen 2015, 45), this issue transcends the capacity of individual response.
Currently, there are large scale programs for improving public health by changing individual behavior, for example anti-smoking campaigns. In recent years, research has begun to shift from understanding the unequal distribution of negative health behaviors and outcomes to the inequities in capital and physical autonomy that affect individual health practices (Frohlich and Abel 2014, 200). This has proven to be useful information in addressing issues such as smoking and obesity, leading to a call for institutional level changes that provide access to health care in greater preventative capacities. However, long-term, interdisciplinary approaches face funding issues, as both donors and institutions often want to see quick improvements in their given field of interest (Hess et al. 2012, 172).
- Descriptive: What health risks crises are arising in connection to climate change?
- What are the effects of COVID 19?
- Explanatory: What are health care systems set up to address?
- How did COVID 19 emerge and spread?
- Evaluative: How has the climate crisis shaped the narrative surrounding public health?
- How has climate change set the stage for a global pandemic?
- Instrumental: What reforms can be made, from education to treatment, to provide more efficient and available health care in light of the climate crisis?
- What changes can be made to avoid another pandemic?
- Descriptive: What health risks crises are arising in connection to climate change?
- SOAN 359 (Topics in Medical Anthropology) spring 2021.
- This class will provide ethnographic and theoretical context on the relationship health care has with topics ranging from kinship to structural violence.
- PHIL 215 (Philosophy and the Environment) spring 2019.
- In this class we learned about frameworks for weighing moral dilemmas regarding humans and non-humans, the Anthropocene and the biophysical world. This has important implications in health topics, for example extracting natural resources for use in medicine.
- SOAN 265 (Critical Perspectives in Development) spring 2020.
- We are studying global actors and dynamics that affect well-being through the distribution of resources and formation of knowledge.
- SOAN 255 (Medicine, Healing, & Culture) fall 2019.
- This class provided a lot of information on how health care is structured now, who has access to various kinds of medical attention, and how we think about health and illness.
- ECON 298 (Economics of Gender) spring 2020.
- Relates to gender divisions in medical field that affect who takes on riskier, lower paying jobs.
Here are the required breadth courses I will include in my ENVS major/minor: BIO 201, GEOL 170, ECON 260, SOAN 305, ENG 235, HIST 261. These are in addition to my ENVS core courses, and the area of interest courses I propose above.
Feedback to date
- Choose a broad topic to get started, you’ll narrow it as you continue research. (Jessica Kleiss, February)
- Chose to center research on frameworks related to health care systems.
- Brought focus of research to diseases, although I’m not sure if that’s what I want as a capstone so I haven’t included it in my title.
- Include breadth courses from humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. (Laura Mundt, 4/21)
- Include greater variety for related courses (Jessica Kleiss, 4/28)
- Found courses that will work within my schedule for graduation. Fixed course selections.
Revisions to date
- Ahmed, Iftikhar. “The Impact of Climate Change on the Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases: Global Perspective.” Journal of Enam Medical College 1, no. 2 (2011): 51–53. [link].
- Allen, Patricia Jackson. “Primary Care Approaches. Climate Change: It’s Our Problem.” Pediatric Nursing 41, no. 1 (January 2015): 42–46. [link].
- Crisp, Nigel, and Lincoln Chen. “Global Supply of Health Professionals.” New England Journal of Medicine 370 no. 10 (March 6, 2014): 950–57. [link].
- Fauci, Anthony S., H. Clifford Lane, and Robert R. Redfield. “Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted.” New England Journal of Medicine 382, no. 13 (March 26, 2020): 1268–69. [link].
- Frohlich, Katherine L., and Thomas Abel. “Environmental Justice and Health Practices: Understanding How Health Inequities Arise at the Local Level.” Sociology of Health & Illness 36, no. 2 (2014): 199–212. [link].
- Hess Jeremy J., McDowell Julia Z., and Luber George. “Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into Public Health Practice: Using Adaptive Management to Increase Adaptive Capacity and Build Resilience.” Environmental Health Perspectives 120, no. 2 (February 1, 2012): 171–79. [link].
- Hollander, Judd E., and Brendan G. Carr. 2020. “Virtually Perfect? Telemedicine for Covid-19.” New England Journal of Medicine (March 11, 2020) [link].
- Hoover Elizabeth, Renauld Mia, Edelstein Michael R., and Brown Phil. “Social Science Collaboration with Environmental Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives 123, no. 11 (November 1, 2015): 1100–1106. [link].
- McMichael, Anthony J. “Globalization, Climate Change, and Human Health.” New England Journal of Medicine 368 (April 3, 2013): 1335-1343. [link].
- Morse, Stephen S., Jonna AK Mazet, Mark Woolhouse, Colin R. Parrish, Dennis Carroll, William B. Karesh, Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio, W. Ian Lipkin, and Peter Daszak. “Prediction and Prevention of the next Pandemic Zoonosis.” The Lancet 380, no. 9857 (December 1, 2012): 1956-64 [link].