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OHSU Online · School of Public Health

Exemplars - Concepts Environmental Health

  • Spring 2022
  • 3 Credits
  • 03/28/2022 to 06/10/2022
  • Modified 07/18/2022


An intensive course designed to familiarize students with fundamentals of environmental health from a scientific and conceptual perspective. Topics are considered within multi-causal, ecological, adaptive systems, and risk-assessment frameworks. Includes consideration of biological, chemical, and physical agents in the environment, which influence public health and well-being. Recommended prerequisite: graduate standing.

Contact Information

Dr. Joseph Needoba

Teaching Assistant: Claire Londagin

Meeting Times

Asynchronous - online

This course takes place asynchronously and online. Weekly assignments and tasks are due each Monday by 9 a.m. 

  • Blogs should be completed in the Blog tool (Blog tab along the left side bar)
  • Quizzes and the final exam can be found under the Tests & Quizzes tab
  • Final paper (as well as outline and draft) can be found under the Assignments tab


Environmental Health: From Global to Local

  • Author: Howard Frumkin
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Edition: 3rd
  • ISBN: 978-1-118-98476-5
  • Optional
  • Availability: OHSU and PSU libraries (physical and electronic)

I will post a pdf of the pertinent chapters of this book under Course Materials for each week. You are welcome to purchase the book if you prefer to have a physical copy, but it is not essential.

Media and readings

All readings and other materials (e.g., videos or pod casts) will be provided to students through the Course Materials section in Sakai. There is no cost for any of this. 

The instructor has made an effort to include diverse voices across the topics covered in this course. Students are encouraged to share any additional relevant materials from voices not traditionally represented in the field(s) of environmental health with the instructor; in addition, as you are researching different topics for your blogs and term paper, try to ask yourself whether your source include a variety of voices (race, gender, ethnicity, etc.).  

Course Competencies, Outcomes, and Objectives


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify major environmental and occupational health problems, and determine approaches for measuring them, preventing them, and/or minimizing them;
  • Describe the effects of environmental hazards on the health of exposed groups and populations (with special consideration of vulnerable populations);
  • Communicate the science behind environmental health concepts to colleagues in public health and/or stakeholders;
  • Find and interpret peer-reviewed literature to support critical examination and analysis of a problem in environmental public health;
  • Write persuasively about an environmental problem, focusing on finding solutions;
  • Discuss the social, cultural, political, and regulatory pressures that affect solutions for environmental and occupational health issues.


Upon completion of this course, students will have addressed the following competencies outlined by the Council on Education in Public Health (CEPH):

D1_7. Explain effects of environmental factors on a population’s health

D1_11. Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease

D1_12. Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health and ecosystem health

D2_18. Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors

You will be asked to comment on your attainment of these competencies in the final exam.



As a result of completing this course, students will have:

  • increased their knowledge about a variety of environmental health topics;
  • gained experience in communication through writing (informally and formally);
  • applied environmental health knowledge to propose solutions to important public health problems;
  • practiced looking at environmental health topics through an equity lens



Component Percent of final grade Details
Blogs 25% Weekly reflection on course content
Quizzes 30% Weekly short quiz on chapter readings
Paper 25% Includes submission of draft and final
Final exam 20% Completed during exam week


Blog rubric:

Requirements: 400 words, 1 image, 1 link, comment on 3 peer blogs

  400 words Image Link Peer comments
Max points (/10) 6 1 1 2


White paper rubric:

White papers are often the product of workshops on a given topic of interest or concern, and they usually reach the desk of someone who needs to be convinced. Think about who your potential audience might be and write it to them.



1. Style/presentation (15 pts)

2. Content: strong problem statement & introduction (10 pts)

3. Content: background (10 pts)

4. Content: convincing articulation of the need for action (10 pts)

5. Content: strong conclusion (5 pts)


1. Style:

-adequate page limit (5-10 pages single or double-spaced; word count ~1500-2500)

-include page numbers

-margins: 1" all around

-font at least 12 pts TNR or 10 pts Arial

-organization (logical flow), good grammar, clarity of writing

-use of figure(s) or graphics to make your paper visually engaging


2. Content: Strong problem statement/introduction:

-articulate what the problem is and why it is important

-Identification of the problem you are addressing  -->There is a big problem with X, it affects Y number of people, etc.

-this section should be relatively brief; a few sentences should allow you to succinctly capture the scope and nature of the issue


3. Content: Background

 - Helpful information that explains the context and scope of the problem  -->History of the problem, scope of the problem (how did the problem start? why has it not yet been solved?)

-is there sufficient information presented to allow the reader to understand why the problem is important, for whom, and in what ways?

- References to the literature or to high-quality information sources (at least 5; for most topics, you will probably want more than 5)


4. Content: convincing articulation of need for action or plan for action (i.e., what has to happen for things to change?)


- Suggestions for solutions or next steps (i.e., what is needed?) --> What is needed to solve the problem (e.g., what resources, what kinds of studies are required, who needs to act? What is the ask?) 

-try to keep your solution focused and achievable; the solution can be specific actions, or you can take this opportunity to identify gaps that need to be filled. It is okay to make recommendations that research is needed in a specific area and provide suggestions for how to assemble a team or suggest a strategy to tackle a problem in the community, for example. 


5. Conclusion

Provide a strong statement to end your paper, summarizing salient points


The document should have 1" margins all around. Otherwise, there is some creativity in how it is formatted. Including titles to break up the sections is very helpful, as is including some visuals (figures, conceptual diagrams, etc.). Imagine someone reading through it quickly; how can you make it engaging to someone who might be reading 100 of these? 

Resulting grade and related performance levels
Grade Range Notes
A 93-100
A- 90-92.9
B+ 87-89.9
B 83-86.9
B- 80-82.9
C+ 77-79.9
C 73-76.9
C- 70-72.9
D+ 67-69.9
D 63-66.9

Course & Instructor Evaluations

Evaluations of the course and instructor will take place in three ways:

  1. OHSU evaluation: in the 'Blue' evaluation platform, opens at the end of the term
  2. Qualtrics surveys administered by the instructor mid-way through the term




Textbook chapter

Week 1

Intro to Environmental Health

Blog topic: discuss one of the "planetary boundaries" outlined in Figure 3.3 of the textbook. Choose one of the nine topics, for example "Global Freshwater Use", and briefly discuss some background on how problem has arisen and discuss some potential solutions, framing your discussion around the effect on human/public health (ie, the problem and/or the solution).

1, 3

Week 2

Genes, Epigenetics & Exposure

Blog topic: Your blog this week should focus on some aspect of this week's material. You may choose to focus on something you didn't understand completely, such as the mechanism of methylation during pregnancy, or perhaps explore an idea in greater depth, for example, the possibility that exposure to a toxin can lead to health problems in grandchildren or children that have yet to even be conceived. You may also write your blog about the exposure material in Chapter 8.

7, 8

Week 3

Environmental Epidemiology & Toxicology

Blog topic: Explore the Global Burden of Disease Website ( and the GBD compare tool ( Using the tool, produce a map demonstrating the global distribution of a disease that results from an environmental risk factor (using the drop down menu of risk factors in the upper left side of the tool). Based on the map you produced, use your blog to briefly discuss the environmental toxicology risk, the nature of the disease, and the global populations most affected and why you think those populations are more at risk. Note that this tool takes advantage of "Big Data" that is increasingly used in descriptive studies.

4, 6

Week 4

Environmental Justice & Environmental Risk Communication

Blog topic: Use the EPA's EJSCREEN tool to make a figure that demonstrates an Environmental Justice issue in a location of your choice. You will need to choose one or more of the EJ Indices that are provided. Once you have identified an Environmental Justice topic and made the figure (or figures) based on the EJSCREEN program, use your blog to explain the issue and the risk. Imagine that the people living in the community are reading your blog and learning about the issue, thus you should use the rules outlined in chapter 28 to make your communication as effective as possible.

11, 28

Week 5

Water & Pests

Outline of White Paper due (optional)

Blog topic: Discuss an important and timely drinking water issue that you are interested in. Please point out the scientific reasons for the issue (and/or solution to the problem) as well as the environmental justice aspects of the issue.

16, 18

Week 6

Air Quality & Radiation

Blog topic: Discuss a specific public health topic related to radiation. Describe the mode of action (alpha particle/gamma ray/photon flux, etc), whether it is naturally occurring or human caused, and other aspects relevant to public health. For example, you might choose x-ray technology in medicine, in which case you can describe the important benefits of using x-rays for diagnosing bone fractures as well as the health risks of the diagnostic procedure.

13, 22

Week 7

Food Safety, Food Systems & Solid Waste

White Paper draft due

Blog topic: The Lancet EAT commission is a strategy to improve human health and produce food in a sustainable manner even when the global human population reaches 10 Billion people. For your blog I would like you to read the EAT commission Summary Report and make sure you understand Figure 5 from the report. Then, choose some aspect of the figure to expand upon in your blog.

17, 19

Week 8

Climate Change

Blog topic: Co-benefits of reducing CO2 emissions. As discussed in the lecture and the textbook, strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also produce significant public health benefits. For your Blog this week I would like you to visit the Drawdown website and pick one solution from the list that you are interested in. Briefly explain what the topic is, how it will reduce CO2 emissions, and identify any relevant co-benefits to human and public health.


Week 9

Health Buildings, Health Communities

Blog topic: Portland is known as a progressive city where sustainability is central to city planning. I would like you to visit the City of Portland Planning and Sustainability website and spend some time looking at their programs and find a topic for your blog that is relevant to this week's subject. Some examples include: The Green Loop, the Climate Action Plan , and the Residential Infill Plan.

15, 20

Week 10

Occupational Health & Injuries

Blog topic [this is for extra credit!]: Did you know that OHSU is one of six Centers of Excellence in the U.S. focused on Total Worker Health? For this week's blog, elaborate on the concept of Total Worker Health and explore the work at OHSU using their public webpage I would like you to explore a topic that the Center is working on for your blog this week. One of the easiest ways to do this is to look at the publications page and report on a specific study.

21, 23

Week 11

Exam week

Final paper due

Final exam


School Policies and Resources

School of Public Health Handbook

All students are responsible for following the policies and expectations outlined in the student handbook for their program of study. Students are responsible for their own academic work and are expected to have read and practice principles of academic honesty, as presented in the handbook:

Student Access & Accommodations

The School of Public Health values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering mutual respect and full participation for all students. My goal is to create a learning environment that is equitable, useable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. 

  • If you are already registered with disability services at either OHSU or PSU and you are taking a course at the opposite institution, you need to contact the office you're registered with to transfer your accommodations.
  • If you are not already registered with a disability services office, and you have, or think you may have, a disability that may affect your work in this class, and feel you need accommodations, use the following table for guidance about which office to contact to initiate accommodations.

Resource Table

Enrollment University and Standing

Where to Seek Accommodations

Undergraduate School of Public Health major

PSU’s Disability Resource Center

All PSU-registering Dual Degree (MSW/MPH and MURP/MPH) Graduate School of Public Health Majors and all PSU-registering PhD students admitted prior to fall 2016.

PSU’s Disability Resource Center


Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 116

[email protected]

Graduate School of Public Health major (irrespective of institution at which you register)

OHSU’s Office for Student Access

(503) 494-0082

[email protected]

OHSU Auditorium Building 330

Non-SPH major, PSU-enrolled student

PSU’s Disability Resource Center


Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 116

[email protected]

Non-SPH major, OHSU-enrolled student

OHSU’s Office for Student Access

(503) 494-0082

[email protected]

OHSU Auditorium Building 330


For more information related accessibility and accommodations, please see the "Statement Regarding Students with Disabilities" within the Institutional Policies section of this syllabus.

Title IX

The School of Public Health is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and discriminatory harassment. The School of Public Health students who have questions about an incident related to Title IX are welcome to contact either the OHSU or PSU's Title IX Coordinator and they will direct you to the appropriate resource or office. Title IX pertains to any form of sex/gender discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

  • PSU’s Title IX Coordinator is Julie Caron, she may be reached at [email protected] or 503-725-4410. Julie's office is located at 1600 SW 4th Ave, In the Richard and Maureen Neuberger Center RMNC - Suite 830.  
  • The OHSU Title IX Coordinator’s may be reached at 503-494-0258 or [email protected] and is located at 2525 SW 3rd St.

Please note that faculty and the Title IX Coordinators will keep the information you disclose private but are not confidential. If you would like to speak with a confidential advocate, who will not disclose the information to a university official without your written consent, you may contact an advocate at PSU or OHSU.

  • OHSU’s advocates are available through the Confidential Advocacy Program (CAP) at 833-495-CAPS (2277) or by email [email protected], but please note, email is not a secure form of communication. Also visit

At OHSU, if you encounter any harassment, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, national origin or ancestry, veteran or military status, sex, marital status, pregnancy or parenting status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability or any other protected status, please contact the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) Department at 503-494-5148 or [email protected].

At PSU, you may contact the Office of Equity and Compliance if you experience any form of discrimination or discriminatory harassment as listed above at [email protected] or by calling 503-725-5919.

Technical Support

The OHSU ITG Help Desk is available to assist students with email account or network account access issues between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday at 503-494-2222. For technical support in using the Sakai Course Management System, please contact the Sakai Help Desk at 877-972-5249 or email us at [email protected]

OHSU Competencies

List of OHSU Graduation Core Competencies
  • Professional Knowledge and Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Information Literacy
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Community Engagement, Social Justice and Equity
  • Patient Centered Care
To access a descriptive list of OHSU Graducation Core Competencies:  OHSU Graduation Core Competencies

Institutional Policies and Resources

Statement Regarding Students with Disabilities:

OHSU is committed to inclusive and accessible learning environments in compliance with federal and state law. If you have a disability or think you may have a disability (mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts) contact the Office for Student Access at (503) 494-0082 or OHSU Student Access to have a confidential conversation about academic accommodations. Information is also available at Student Access Website. Because accommodations may take time to implement and cannot be applied retroactively, it is important to have this discussion as soon as possible.

Portland State students also have similar resources available via the PSU Disability Resource Center (website ). Please contact the DRC at tel. (503) 725-4150 or email at [email protected]

Student Evaluation of Courses:

Course evaluation results are extremely important and used to help improve courses and the learning experience of future students. Responses will always remain anonymous and will only be available to instructors after grades have been posted. The results of scaled questions and comments go to both the instructor and their unit head/supervisor. Refer to Student Evaluation of Courses and Instructional Effectiveness, *Policy No. 02-50-035.

*To access the OHSU Student Evaluation of Courses and Instructional Effectiveness Policy, you must log into the OHSU O2 website.

Copyright Information:

Copyright laws and fair use policies protect the rights of those who have produced the material. The copy in this course has been provided for private study, scholarship, or research. Other uses may require permission from the copyright holder. The user of this work is responsible for adhering to copyright law of the U.S. (Title 17, U.S. Code). To help you familiarize yourself with copyright and fair use policies, the University encourages you to visit its Copyright Web Page

Sakai course web sites contain material protected by copyrights held by the instructor, other individuals or institutions. Such material is used for educational purposes in accord with copyright law and/or with permission given by the owners of the original material. You may download one copy of the materials on any single computer for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes only, provided that you (1) do not modify it, (2) use it only for the duration of this course, and (3) include both this notice and any copyright notice originally included with the material. Beyond this use, no material from the course web site may be copied, reproduced, re-published, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way without the permission of the original copyright holder. The instructor assumes no responsibility for individuals who improperly use copyrighted material placed on the web site.

Syllabi Changes and Retention:

Syllabi are considered to be a learning agreement between students and the faculty of record. Information contained in syllabi, other than the minimum requirements, may be subject to change as deemed appropriate by the faculty of record in concurrence with the academic program and the Office of the Provost. Refer to the *Course Syllabi Policy, 02-50-050.

*To access the OHSU Course Syllabus Policy, you must log into the OHSU O2 website.

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion:

OHSU is committed to creating and fostering a learning and working environment based on open communication and mutual respect. If you encounter sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, national origin, veteran’s status, ancestry, sex, marital status, pregnancy or parenting status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or any other protected status please contact the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Department at 503-494-5148 or [email protected]. Inquiries about Title IX compliance or sex/gender discrimination and harassment may be directed to the OHSU Title IX Coordinator at 503-494-0258 or [email protected].

Modified Operations, Policy 01-40-010:

Portland Campus:  Marquam Hill and South Waterfront

Students should review O2 or call OHSU’s weather alert line at 503-494-9021 for the most up-to-date information on OHSU-wide modified operations which include but are not limited to delays or closures for inclement weather.

If your home institution is not on the Portland campus (Marquam Hill or South Waterfront, contact your home institution for more information.

OHSU Resources Available to Students*:

Remote Learning Resources
The Remote Learning webpage on O2 contains concise, practical resources, and strategies for students that need to quickly transition to a fully remote instructional format.

Registrar’s Office
Mackenzie Hall, Rm. 1120
503-494-7800; Email the Registrar

Student Registration Information: 
To Register for Classes

OHSU ITG Help Desk
Regular staff hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, but phones are answered seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Call 503 494-2222.

Teaching and Learning Center
Academic Support Counseling and Sakai Course Management System, please contact the TLC Help Desk at 877-972-5249 or email TLC Help Desk

Student Academic Support Services
For resources on improving student’s study strategies, time management, motivation, test-taking skills and more, Please access the Student Academic Support Services Sakai page. For one-on-one appointments or to arrange a workshop for students, please contact Emily Hillhouse.

Confidential Advocacy Program
Support for OHSU employees, students, and volunteers who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, stalking, relationship/dating violence, and other forms — regardless of when or where it took place. Contact Us.

Concourse Syllabus Management
For help with accessing your Concourse Syllabus:  Please contact the Sakai help Desk for all other Concourse inquiries please visit the Concourse Support - Sakai or please contact the Mark Rivera at [email protected] or call 503-494-0934

Public Safety
OHSU Public Safety-Portland Campus (Marquam Hill and South Waterfront)

Student Health & Wellness Center 
Baird Hall, Rm. 18 (Primary Care) and Rm. 6 (Behavioral Health)
503-494-8665; For urgent care after hours, 503-494-8311 and ask for the Nurse on call.
Wellness Center Information  
Wellness Center Website

If your home institution is not on the Portland campus, contact your home institution student support services for more information.

Ombudsman Office
Gaines Hall, Rm. 117
707 SW Gaines Street, Portland, OR 97239
503-494-5397; Contact OmbudsmanOmbudsman Website

Library: Biomedical Information Communication Center
BICC Library Hours of Operation

Privacy While Learning Remotely

Students may be asked to take classes remotely through videoconferencing software like WebEx. Some of these remote classes will be recorded. Any recording will capture the presenter’s audio, video, and computer screen. Student video and audio will be recorded if and when you unmute your audio and share your video during the recorded sessions. These recordings will not be shared with or accessible to the public without prior written consent.