In Fall 2017, Andrews University will begin to offer a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) with a concentration in environmental health through the Department of Public Health, Nutrition & Wellness. The new degree offer is the first of its kind at the undergraduate level in the Adventist education system.
“This new program provides exciting career opportunities for both public and environmental health,” said Padma Uppala, director of the BSPH program. “In this ever-changing world, the goal is to restore quality to both the natural environment and quality of life.”
“Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2024,” said Uppala, “faster than the average for all occupations.”
Increased public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spike demand for environmental scientists and specialists.
“Public health has a rich history over the past decade of major contributions to improving the health of the public,” said Uppala. “The BSPH degree will provide students with a versatile future that may include working as a physician, dentist or pharmacist as well as pursuing an online Master of Public Health degree at Andrews University.”
Focus on Real-Life Concerns
The BSPH curriculum is built around the basic principles of environmental health that include exploring the complexity of the natural environment and the complex interactions between humans and natural elements and the resulting impacts on human health. Students will also examine large scale and global environmental hazards to human health that include climate change, loss of biodiversity, changes in hydrological systems and supply of freshwater, land degradation and stresses in food production systems.
“Environmental degradation occurs over long-term and is potentially irreversible,” explains Uppala. “Emerging risks are identified every day. Increasing industrialization, explosive urban population growth, illegal dumping of electronic and toxic wastes, non-sustainable consumption of natural resources and use of dangerous substances and drugs all contribute to the health of children and adults.”
The field of environmental health, which is one of the core foundations of public health, is undergoing dramatic changes in the areas of climate change, disaster preparedness, the built environment and exposure to unknown hazardous chemicals in food, water and air.
In meeting the demands of this burgeoning field, the Andrews BSPH program emphasizes challenges students will face in the real world. Some of the current pressing environmental issues and priority health issues identified in the US include the role chemicals may play in autism, asthma, and cancer; the extremely high mortality rates from the opioid epidemic; endocrine disruption as well as climate change and human health.
“Identified priority areas provide exciting opportunities for engaging students in research and service as well as opportunities to improve human health and be agents of change in the world,” said Uppala. “Science for service becomes a way of life for those in a public health profession, and joining the Andrews BSPH program is a great step in the right direction.”