This website is about the urban environment, the ways in which neighborhood and metropolitan features affect health. Urban environmental health has three main domains: the built, social and physical environments. The physical environment is what most people think of when they consider the word environment: it includes factors such as air and water pollution, toxicology and environmental epidemiology. The social environment is the range of human interactions that can have profound impacts on health. These factors include biological constructions: age and sex, as well as social constructs: race, ethnicity and gender. In addition, this domain includes how these factors are distributed across societies or local areas that can categorized as racial segregation or income inequality. The third domain is the built environment: all the human made features that can also influence and impact health. Much of my work is about architecture and health.
In all my work, and in my teaching, I stress not only how to measure these factors but who to develop and assess policy responses to them. It is not enough to know that a factor such as income inequality or poor neighborhood design negatively impacts health, the ultimate goal is to mitigate or reduce these factors.
A very important idea, as my good friend and colleague Greg Howard points out, is that there is a need for broad rather than narrow solutions. Narrow solutions focus only at the problem at hand, traffic congestion for example, and might only include ways of increasing automobile traffic. Implementing broader solutions requires a systematic analysis of a problem so that the range of related problems are considered. In this example, that would include looking at non-automobile transportation, economic and health impacts.