Mission: To explore the broad conditions that shape environmental health. To bridge the understanding among scientific, policy and social perspectives.




It has been a year full of productive work and a true interdisciplinary learning experience!

**************** CONGRATULATIONS ********************


See attached project presentations scedule below for week 10 - final presentations of spring quarter




Program Description, Schedule and locations of program activities follow below.

Program Description:

Major areas of study include environmental sciences (biology, toxicology, epidemiology), Federal and international law, policy, social sciences, community studies.

Prerequisites: one year of college-level science & social sciences/public policy (or some mix of these two) juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome

SPRING Program schedule:

Tuesday Wednesday Friday
9:00 am-12 noon


SemII A1105

Projects time

Lab I 1051 & Lab II 3216

Sem II E2107 & E2109

9 am-12 noon

Projects time

Lab I 1051 and Lab II 3216

Sem II E2107 & E2109


Lunch Break


Lunch Break



SemII E2107 and E2109

No class

All class meeting

Sem II A1105


Overall Program Description:

Environmental health is inherently interdisciplinary. This program will therefore integrate science with policy and social justice movements. It will explore the broad conditions that shape environmental health, both human health and the ecosystem context. We will be moving across and between questions of science, public policy (from municipal to international) and social justice (workings of non-governmental organizations). We will dedicate ourselves to bridging the understanding among scientific, policy and social perspectives and examine emerging strategies and solutions, from community-based monitoring to U.N. negotiations. The chemical, biologic and physical/radiological risks of modern life will be considered, with an emphasis on industrial pollutants. We will examine models, evidence and debates about the sources, causal connections and impacts of environmental hazards. We will be learning about existing and emergent science in conjunction with evolving systems of law, regulation, governance and the broad array of community response. We will also examine environmental health in the broader context of – and debates about – key frameworks of population, consumption, and sustainability. Through out the program, students will learn from a range of learning approaches – lecture, lab, computer-based toxicology, guest presentation, seminar, visits and collaborations with regional experts, officials and activists.

SPRING quarter Program content

The overall goal of this quarter's work is to apply the knowledge built over the past two quarters to specific case studies of current environmental health issues. The topics presented and discussed in spring quarter will examine closely the details of each case study including identification of the pieces of original research evidence that is used in the policy or litigation, how it is presented, how it contributes to the decisions, the legal framework surrounding the case, the specific details of the litigation between two (or more) opposite sides and the impact of the decision or the status of the issue if it is unresolved. Your faculty will make a few selections of readings in weeks 1 and 2, related to environmental health issues of international scale, and provide guidelines for you to find the key readings that will provide the shared reading base for weeks 3 and 4 and for each case thereafter for the rest of the quarter. We will be reading selectively from the following: science journals, regulatory governmental documents, legal documents, popular press, and community materials.

There will be a strong emphasis on student projects and student-led seminars on selected readings. Tuesday morning will be dedicated to lectures, guest speakers and short local field trips for the entire class. Friday afternoon is the second all-class meeting time, dedicated to exchange of project progress, plans, troubshooting and problem solving. The main time blocks allocated to student projects are scheduled for Wednesday morning and Friday morning, with space scheduled for labs and small (seminar) meetings with faculty for consultation.

WINTER quarter Program Content

In the winter this program will focus on selected topics such as persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and carcinogens, regarding the development of scientific knowledge, assessment of risk to human health and their political complexity. We will continue to explore qualitative and quantitative science approaches to assessing the level or risk primarily to human health (and to some extent to ecosystem health) from exposure to environmental pollutants (chemical and radioactive) following the systematic framework currently in use by regulatory agencies. This will include application of the foundations introduced in the fall, such as mechanism of action, chemical disposition (toxicokinetics), dose-response relationships, measures of exposure, and differential species responses and individual (genetic) susceptibility. Students will learn to employ quantitative measures of risk within social contexts of risk burden to fully characterize risk and examine the options for risk management, reduction or elimination.
We will also continue to examine policy applications and implications of the scientific challenges; consider questions of scientific (un)certainty about toxicity and risk and connections to the policy debates about how to deal with complex combinations of environmental hazards. With the Puget Sound region as context, we will have the opportunity to see how some areas are being debated – from city council to the Washington State Legislature to neighboring counties. We’ll meet with representatives of scientific institutes, agencies and organizations working on such as the Washington Toxics Coalition Body Burden Project in preparation for Spring quarter as the program continues with increasing focus on student projects (both individual and group) building on both natural and social science features: to deepen our knowledge and engage with scientists, agencies, legislative advocates, environmental health and community activists.
New labs will provide opportunities to enrich our knowledge of toxicity testing and exposure assessment, while seminars will provide new opportunities to discuss original scientific literature, and to examine the impacts of environmental pollution on different groups and communities with a focus on the needs and rights of the public.

WINTER quarter
Learning Objectives

• What is meant by risk in the context of environmental health?
• What is acceptable risk and how is risk perceived?
• How exposure accounts for health risk and how is exposure assessed?
• How is risk measured and assessed qualitatively and quantitatively?
• What are the current directions and responses of regulatory agencies and relevant regulations for emerging pollutants?
• Review the history of public health in terms of definitions; prioritization budget questions; relations of ecological to economic issues, and ongoing debates about scientific knowledge and citizen involvement.
• Develop the critical ability to analyze how epidemiological and toxicological data are employed to identify and characterize human health risk.
• Develop the critical ability to read and interpret scientific literature on relevant topics including quantitative data evaluation and interpretation.
• Understand a number of competing arguments about appropriate research methodologies, by identification of theoretical and methodological issues.
• Understand competing arguments about risk assessment.
• Develop a critical understanding of legislative, judicial and agency features of EH science and policy
• Develop an understanding of case studies and community-based research.

FALL quarter Program Content

In the fall there was a strong focus on scientific foundations and lab experience. From the scientific perspective, we examined the toxicity of environmental chemical (and some biologic) agents, applying principles of toxicology, epidemiology and molecular and cellular biology. We investigated types of pollutants, dose-response relationships, exposure route and level and type of biologic effect; we examined the strengths and weaknesses of toxicity testing methodology; and introduced the distinction between “association” and “causation.” From a social science perspective, we examined the legal structure of environmental hazards via specific federal legislation, international protocols and aspects of administrative, criminal and civil law that govern release, disposal and proposed clean up. We also considered the importance of precaution and citizen right-to-know as part of public practice. We examined debates about the relation of industrial conditions to individual susceptibility and life style. We developed a comparative sense of how different countries are dealing with these factors and how this becomes a source of conflict, from neighborhood disputes about waste disposal to cross border transportation of hazards. Labs provided opportunities to enrich our knowledge of scientific discovery and seminars provided opportunity to contemplate the consequences of environmental pollution and to create an understanding of environmental issues that is effective/responsive to the needs and rights of the public.

FALL QUARTER Learning Objectives [to]:

Law and Policy
• Develop the critical ability to analyze chemical policy structure – on a federal inter national and state level.
• Look at the history of causality; the shift in priorities and levels
of awareness on the part of the public in terms of issue-attention.
• Recognize how legal structures and laboratory protocol may be ineffective in actually providing a healthful environment
• Learn some of the historical features of the process of discovery as
it relates, particularly, to issues such as population dynamics and
climate change.
• Understand a number of competing arguments about appropriate research
methodologies, biological and toxicological procedure.


• Understand the principles of normal cell function and physiology
• Understand the properties of chemical substances
• Develop an understanding of the molecular nature of toxicity
• Develop a critical ability to understand and interpret scientific information in the literature
• Achieve quantitative reasoning in evaluating toxicological information
• Develop an understanding of the basics of epidemiological studies

Assignments and Credits

1. Students must attend Lecture Hall 5, Seminar II E 1107 or
Computer Application Lab (CAL) workshops as one group on Tuesday and
Friday and complete assigned reading; Students must complete quizzes
and CAL assignments, a mid term exam in week 5 and a final project
assignment in week 10 to achieve full program credit in toxicology and
environmental law.
2. Students will be divided into two groups (A and B) for weekly
Wednesday toxicology labs in Lab I 1051 and Environmental Justice
workshops in Lab II 2207. There will be weekly assignments scheduled
for each for full program credit.
3. Students will be divided into two groups for weekly Tuesday
afternoon seminar in Seminar II C 3107 or C 3109. Students must
complete two short papers indicated for weeks 3 and 7 on your syllabus
to achieve full program credit.

Project presentations schedule.doc27.5 KB