Course SyllabusEnvironmental Health SC

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This Environmental Health course provides an introduction to environmental health, including risk assessment and management, toxicology, and other foundational principles. All components of this training are free, including registration, learning, testing, and a certificate of completion. This course is intended for graduate-level students of medicine, environmental sciences or public health. 

This Environmental Health course was developed in partnership with the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This course is co-sponsored by: the International Society of Doctors for the Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Health Sciences , and the University of the Incarnate Word. Like all NextGenU courses, it is competency-based, using competencies from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region. This course uses learning resources from world-class academic and governmental organizations such as Harvard Medical School, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization. The course developer is Lindsay Galway, and our Advisory Group is: Ryan Allen, PhD; Kristian Dubrawski, PhD; Sylvia Struck, PhD; and Tim Takaro, MD, MPH, MSc.

For a publication on this course’s efficacy, see “A Novel Integration of Online and Flipped Classroom Instructional Models in Public Health Higher Education,” (2014), BMC Medical Education, https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6920-14-181see also “Building Public Health Capacity through Online Global Learning,” (2018), Open Praxis, https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/746/427; to see more research related to NextGenU.org’s educational model, check out NextGenU.org’s publication page.

There are 9 modules to complete, which provide: 

  1. A basic introduction to the study of environmental health; 
  2. An overview on exposure assessment, toxicology, and risk management; 
  3. Skills to develop an environmental and occupational risk assessment.

Approximate time required for the required readings for the course is 35 hours at an average reading rate of 144 words/minute; in addition, there are required activities.

There are practice quizzes in each module, and at the end of the course you’ll have a final exam and a chance to evaluate this course. We will give you all the results of your assessments, such as your final exam and peer activities. We can report your testing information and share your work with anyone (your school, employer, etc.) that you request. We hope this is a wonderful learning experience for you, and the feedback you provide after completing the course will help us improve the course for future students.

The course requires completion of all peer activities. At the end of each lesson, there is a practice quiz. At the end of the course, after you’ve completed each lesson, quiz, and activity, you’ll have access to a final exam, and a chance to assess the training. Once you’ve passed that last test, you will be able to download a certificate of completion from NextGenU.org and our course’s co-sponsoring organizations (listed above). We keep all of your personal information confidential, never sell any of your information, and only use anonymized data for research purposes, and we are also happy to report your testing information and share your work with anyone (your school, employer, etc.) at your request. We hope that you will find this a rewarding learning experience, and we count on your feedback to help us improve this training for future students.

Engaging with this Course:

You may browse this course for free to learn for your personal enrichment; there are no requirements.

Show in the registration fields that you have the appropriate prerequisites to be certified. This course requires the learner to have already obtained a college level degree. 

To obtain a certificate

  • Complete all the reading requirements.
  • Complete all quizzes and pass with a 70% with unlimited attempts.
  • Complete 4 peer activity and associated certification quizzes.
  • Successfully complete the final exam with a minimum of 70% and a maximum of 3 attempts.
  • Complete the self and course evaluation forms.

To obtain credit 

  • Complete all requirements listed above for the certificate. 
  • Your learning institution or workplace should approve the partner-university-sponsored NextGenU.org course for educational credit, as they would for their learner taking a course anywhere.  
    • NextGenU.org is happy to provide your institution with:
      • a link to and description of the course training, so they can see all its components, including the cosponsoring universities and other professional organization cosponsors; 
      • your grade on the final exam;
      • your work products (e.g. peer and mentored activities), and any other required or optional shared materials that you produce and authorize to share with them;  
      • your evaluations -- course, self, and peer assessments;
      • a copy of your certificate of completion, with the cosponsoring universities and other organizations listed.

We hope that you will find this a rewarding learning experience, and we count on your assessment and feedback to help us improve this training for future students.

To obtain a degree, NextGenU.org co-sponsors degree programs with institutional partners. To obtain a degree co-sponsored with NextGenU.org, registrants must be enrolled in a degree program as a student of a NextGenU.org institutional partner. If you think that your institution might be interested in offering a degree with NextGenU.org contact us.

Next Steps

  • Complete the registration form.
  • Begin the course with Module 1:Introduction to environmental health. In each lesson, read the description, complete all required readings and any required activity, and take the corresponding quizzes.

Module 1: Introduction to environmental health

Competencies covered in this module:
  1. Know and understand the significant elements and incidents in the history of environmental and occupational sciences
  2. Know and understand the scale and the trends of current health problems associated with major environmental contamination's

Module 1: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

Learning Objectives
  • Identify the milestones of historical development in the field of environmental health
  • Describe the importance and impact of environmental health issues on population health, and the burden of disease due to environmental factors
  • Define critical environmental health terms
  • Discuss the links between environmental and occupational health
  • Give examples of major environmental disasters, and discuss their relevance to the field of environmental health in general
Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  3 hours and 56 minutes.


Required readingsOptional readings
    Peer Activities
      QuizzesAssignments
        DiscussionsQuestionnare

          Module 2: Environmental hazards and their effects on human health and ecosystems

          Competency covered in this module:
          1. Describe the direct and indirect human, ecological, and safety effects of major environmental and occupational agents

          Module 2: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

          Learning Objectives
          • Describe different types of exposures (i.e., acute vs. chronic)
          • Identify hazardous chemicals in our daily lives and give examples of health effects related to exposure to these chemicals
          • Give examples of health hazards in the occupational setting
          • Discuss possible consequences of ecosystem change for human health and well-being
          Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  4 hours and 3 minutes.

          Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
            QuizzesAssignments
              DiscussionsQuestionnare

                Module 3: Principles of exposure assessment

                Competency covered in this module:
                1. Know and understand the principles of exposure assessment to major environmental contaminations, current methods and tools

                Module 3: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                Learning Objectives
                • Define and describe the difference between exposure and dose
                • Demonstrate an understanding of key characteristics of exposure and exposure pathways
                • Demonstrate an understanding of exposure assessment strategies used in environmental and occupational health
                • Identify strengths and weaknesses of various exposure assessment methods and tools
                • Define basic exposure assessment terms and concepts
                • Describe the role of biomarkers in exposure assessment as well as the benefits and limitations of using biomarkers
                Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  4 hours and 1 minutes.

                Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                  QuizzesAssignments
                    DiscussionsQuestionnare

                      Module 4: Toxicology and epidemiology in environmental health

                      Competencies covered in this module:
                      1. Explain the general mechanisms of toxicity in eliciting a toxic response to various environmental exposures
                      2. Know and understand the basic limitations of toxicology and of assessment measures for environmental pollutions, and how they affect assessment outcomes
                      3. Know and understand the specific design of epidemiologic studies in environmental health

                      Module 4: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                      Learning Objectives
                      • Describe the role of toxicology in environmental and occupational health
                      • Explain how toxicity is assessed, and define important toxicological concepts (i.e., dose-response, LD 50, etc.)
                      • Demonstrate a general understanding of mechanisms of toxicity
                      • Discuss the limitations of toxicological methods and the implications of these limitations for public health
                      • Find accurate and reliable information about the toxicity of agents
                      • Describe the most common study designs in environmental epidemiology
                      Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  3 hours and 49 minutes.

                      Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                        QuizzesAssignments
                          DiscussionsQuestionnare

                            Module 5: Risk assessment: Concepts and application

                            Competency covered in this module:

                            1. Specify current environmental risk assessment methods

                            Module 5: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                            Learning Objectives
                            • Define and understand the concept of risk and how it differs from hazard
                            • Describe the steps involved in performing a risk assessment
                            • Explain how human health risk assessments are used in public health
                            Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  2 hours and 25 minutes.

                            Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                              QuizzesAssignments
                                DiscussionsQuestionnare

                                  Module 6: Risk management, communication, and regulation to protect human health and ecosystems

                                  Competencies covered in this module:
                                  1. Discuss various risk management and risk communication approaches in relation to issues of environmental justice and equity
                                  2. Specify approaches for assessing, preventing, and controlling environmental hazards that pose risks to human health and safety.
                                  3. Describe regulatory programs, guidelines, and authorities that control environmental (and occupational) health issues

                                  Module 6: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                                  Learning Objectives
                                  • Demonstrate an understanding of key elements in risk communication for environmental health hazards
                                  • Identify possible strategies for preventing and controlling environmental and occupational health hazards
                                  • Explain the meaning of the precautionary principle and its role in environmental health management, regulation, and decision-making
                                  • Outline air quality guidelines and standards, and give examples of those authorities responsible for regulating environmental health hazards
                                  Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  2 hours and 57 minutes.

                                  Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                                    QuizzesAssignments
                                      DiscussionsQuestionnare

                                        Module 7: Susceptibility, vulnerability and inequality in environmental health

                                        Competencies covered in this module:
                                        1. Describe genetic, physiological and psychosocial factors that affect susceptibility to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental hazards
                                        2. Know and understand gene-environment interactions
                                        3. Assessment of social inequalities of environmental hazards

                                        The field of public health is particularly concerned with susceptibility, vulnerability, and inequality. 

                                        Module 7: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                                        Learning Objectives
                                        • Identify and explain factors that make children particularly susceptible to environmental hazards
                                        • Explain how and why environmental hazards and their related health effects vary across countries, regions, or groups
                                        • Explain how gender, age, and socio-economic status can influence susceptibility to environmental hazards
                                        • Describe the importance of gene-environment interactions and epigenetics
                                        Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  4 hours and 16 minutes.

                                        Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                                          QuizzesAssignments
                                            DiscussionsQuestionnare

                                              Module 8: Case studies in environmental and occupational health

                                              Competencies covered in this module:
                                              1. Assess, evaluate, and remediate environmental exposures and environmental health issues (Develop a testable model of environmental insult)
                                                  • Global Scale: Global climate change and human health and well-being

                                              2. Assess, evaluate, and remediate environmental exposures and environmental health issues (Develop a testable model of environmental insult)
                                                  • Regional Scale: Built Environment and healthy communities

                                              3. Assess, evaluate, and remediate environmental exposures and environmental health issues (Develop a testable model of environmental insult)
                                                  • Local Scale: Pesticides in occupational settings

                                              Module 8: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                                              Learning Objectives
                                              • Find, evaluate and synthesize relevant information about an environmental health issue, and identify possible strategies to address the issue
                                              • Explain the causes of climate change
                                              • Outline evidence of climate change and the evidence indicating that climate change is induced by human activities
                                              • Describe the impacts of climate on ecosystems and health
                                              • Define and explain concepts related to climate change (vulnerability , adaptation, mitigation etc.)
                                              Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  5 hours and 15 minutes.

                                              Required readingsOptional readingsPeer Activities
                                                QuizzesAssignments
                                                  DiscussionsQuestionnare

                                                    Module 9: Emerging Perspectives for Environmental Health

                                                    In module 9, you will be introduced to ecohealth and ecological public health. Both are emerging perspectives in public health and environmental health that focus on the connections between human and ecosystem health.

                                                    Learning Objectives:

                                                    Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

                                                    • Describe the ecohealth and ecological public health perspectives
                                                    • Explain how ecohealth and ecological public health differ from a more traditional environmental health perspective
                                                    • Apply the ecohealth and ecological public health perspectives to environmental and /or public health issues

                                                    Module 9: Lesson 1: Required Readings, Activities and Additional Learning Options

                                                    Approximate time required for the readings for this lesson (at 144 words/minute):  3 hours and 39 minutes.

                                                    Required readingsOptional readings
                                                      Peer Activities
                                                        QuizzesAssignments
                                                          DiscussionsQuestionnare

                                                            Final Exam

                                                            Course and Self Evaluation & Certificate

                                                            In this section, you can provide feedback about this course to help us make NextGenU.org better. Once evaluations are completed, you will be able to download your certificate of completion. 

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                                                            Course Resources

                                                            Required readings
                                                              Optional readings
                                                                Peer Activities
                                                                  Quizzes
                                                                    Assignments
                                                                      Discussions
                                                                        Questionnare

                                                                          Required readings
                                                                            Optional readings
                                                                              Peer Activities
                                                                                Quizzes
                                                                                  Assignments
                                                                                    DiscussionsQuestionnare