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Climate Change Adaptation in Public Health: Large World Cities

Barcelona, Spain
2nd term
Health Policy and Management
3 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
Mon 11/13/2017 - Wed 11/15/2017
Class Times:
  • M Tu W,  8:30am - 6:00pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor :
  • Mary Catherine Sheehan
Judy Holzer

Warmer temperatures, sea-level rise and more frequent and unpredictable severe storms brought by climate change pose major challenges for public health policy makers and practitioners. The policy challenge is to develop and implement strategies and programs to protect populations from a growing number of adverse health outcomes, including heat stress and heat stroke, injuries, and vector-borne disease. Students who are future public health policy and practice leaders will gain policy and practice tools that will help public health departments in the effort to adapt to climate change. The City of Barcelona Climate Adaptation Team will make a special presentation.

Provides an overview of the science behind climate change and highlights the particular risks of global mega-cities due to their concentrated populations, urban heat-island effect, frequent proximity to coasts and rivers, and locus of transport and trade. Uses the WHO and US CDC Guides to Vulnerability for Public Health and the UN Habitat Guide to Vulnerability Assessment for Cities to identify populations at greatest risk from climate impacts. Critically evaluates through case studies actual climate and health adaptive policies as they are implemented in real-life contexts in several large, innovative world cities including San Francisco, London, Rio de Janeiro, Durban, and Copenhagen.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic science behind climate change and the epidemiological evidence for its adverse health impacts
  2. Organize and conduct a public health climate vulnerability assessment in a multi-hazard urban context
  3. Critically evaluate a range of current and newly-emerging policy and practice tools available to public health policymakers and practitioners to target resilience and preparedness efforts toward the most vulnerable
  4. Compare and contrast how these tools are being implemented today in several large world cities
Methods of Assessment:

Final paper (70%); final paper proposal (10%); class participation 20%

Enrollment Restriction:

interdivisional registration is not permitted for this section.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Full-time degree-seeking students must obtain permission from Judy Holzer prior to registration

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

This course will be offered for 3 days in Barcelona. Students must physically be in Barcelona to participate. Students are required to complete readings prior to the start of class. Final paper proposal due Dec 1, 2017. Final paper due on Dec 19, 2017. Note, students who took course 317.843.98 during the AY 14/15 should not register for this course.