Environmental Justice and Human Health: Creating Systemic Solutions

Virtual Format (Online)
Tuesdays, February 23 – March 30, 2021
6:00 - 7:30 pm (PT)

Course Chairsvirtual course logo

AnneMarie Charlesworth, MA
Patrice Sutton, MPH
Robert Gould, MD
Nadia Gaber, PhD

Course Description

This is a 6-week Mini-Medical School series co-organized by the UCSF EaRTH Center, UCSF Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), and San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and further supported by the UCSF Center for Climate Health and Equity and the Environmental and Climate Health Student Advisory Group. Series Co-Chairs include Annemarie Charlesworth, Patrice Sutton, Robert Gould, Nadia Gaber.

Abstract: Human health is inseparable from environmental health. Our exposure to toxic environmental chemicals through air, water, food, and consumer products is contributing to a surge in chronic disease (cancer, asthma, diabetes, COPD, etc.), developmental delay, neurodegenerative disease, and infertility. Our climate emergency’s concomitant catastrophic events (hurricanes, wildfires, floods, famine, etc.) are driving massive human displacement as populations flee climate-fueled war, conflict, and environmental degradation. Existing health challenges, and health care systems, will need considerable investments of resources and attention in order to mitigate the impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how the web of life connects human health to other species and global health, and the importance of systemic solutions.

Environmental threats to human health are not experienced equally among populations. Structural and institutional racism, and other economic and public policy choices. underlie the fact that some communities suffer more and die earlier from environmental health harms. While health care professionals work to mitigate suffering of individuals, the etiology and enduring solutions to these problems are systemic, and as such, require solutions that address the upstream influences on health at a society-wide level. Thus, research and policy decisions are needed that address the systemic roots of environmental threats to our health. This series will explore a range of environmental contributors to human health and disease through the lens of our most vulnerable populations, and seek to identify and advocate for systemic solutions by health professionals and community members.

Lecture Schedule

February 23, 2021
Environmental Threats to Reproductive Health and Human Fertility
This webinar will explore the relationship between our climate emergency and ubiquitous exposure to toxic environmental chemicals, regarding their impacts on human reproductive health and fertility. Panelists will review current scientific research, and related clinical and public health policy implications, as background for discussing prevention interventions that are being endorsed and promoted by health care providers at the clinical/individual and national/international policy levels.
UCTV Video

March 2, 2021
Environment, War and Conflict
This webinar will explore how climate-fueled catastrophic environmental events have, and will increasingly, force mass displacement of populations within and across borders. Notably as described by the United Nations, refugees, stateless people, and the internally displaced often reside in climate change ‘hotspots’ and may be exposed to secondary displacement. This webinar will describe the threats to the health of these vulnerable migrant and refugee populations. These include the direct and indirect consequences of war and conflict, i.e., the lack of clean air, water, nutrition, and housing, increased exposure to infectious diseases, and psychological trauma.  The session will specifically explore how war and conflict fought over the control of fossil fuel supplies has in turn “fueled” our climate crisis, and related social and environmental injustices. 
UCTV Video

  • Barry S. Levy MD, MPH
  • Sarah J. Coates MD
  • Rohini Haar, MD, MPH
  • Fatima Karaki, MD
  • Bob Gould, MD

March 9, 2021
Reimagining An Equitable Food System: Impact of food production on agricultural communities
This webinar will examine how the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries have created climate emergencies that have threatened global food production, human health, and soil health. We will explore the ubiquitous presence of chemicals in our food supply and the significant, cumulative impacts of extreme heat, pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs on agricultural communities, as well as the promise of regenerative agriculture.
UCTV Video

  • Yogi Hale Hendlin, PhD
  • Brenda Eskenazi, PhD, MA
  • Lucia Sayre
  • Hilary Bass
  • Ted Schettler, MD, MPH

March 16, 2021
Environmental Injustice and Health Politics: Systems Change and Social Care UCTV Video
This session will explore through a moderated discussion the structural inequities of the healthcare system, laid to bare most recently by the COVID pandemic, and the institutional, socio-political and policy changes that are necessary to rebuild the health of our people, our economy, and our democracy.

  • Abdul El Sayed MD
  • Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD
  • Art Chen MD
  • Nadia Gaber, PhD

March 23, 2021
Structural Racism and Environmental Justice in a World of Pandemics UCTV Video
Reflecting on the devastating, disparate impacts of the COVID pandemic on communities of color, this panel will examine the role of structural racism in health outcomes and the systemic changes necessary to ensure health equity.

  • Michael Bird MPH, MSW
  • Judy Young MPH
  • Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH
  • Patrice Sutton, MPH

March 30, 2021
A Call to Action: Transforming Community-Academic Partnerships to Secure Environmental Justice for All UCTV Video
This webinar will reflect on the long history of contamination in the Bayview Hunters Point community, the health harms disproportionately suffered by community members, and the challenges and opportunities for collaboration between community members, academics, scientists, and health professionals to address these environmental injustices.  We will then explore successes and lessons learned from Flint, Michigan, in mobilizing citizens to advocate for policy changes.

  • Kim Rhoads, MD, MS, MPH
  • Michelle Pierce
  • Dan Hirsch
  • Monica Lewis-Patrick
  • Nadia Gaber, PhD