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Courses That Change Your Life: Environmental Health (BIOL 452)

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Feb 18, 2015

One doesn’t usually think of medical and health issues as being the focus of a course at a biological field station, but Au Sable’s Environmental Healthbreaks the mold. More than any other factor, a person’s surrounding physical and biological environment will determine health parameters like physical well being, susceptibility to disease and life span, as well as many other health characteristics. Today perhaps not field in medical science is expanding as rapidly or as uniquely as that of environmental health as medical scientists begin to learn more about how the environment affects the rate of disease transmission (environmental epidemiology), provides resources for medicine and pharmaceuticals (environmental medicine) and affects the delivery of both private and government health agencies to deliver health services. No wonder the new version of MCAT will now contain a section devoted to questions related to environmental health.

Biology students of all interests and backgrounds, including pre-medical and health professions students, can benefit from Au Sable’s Environmental Health, not only because of what it teaches, but because of who teaches it. In the skilled hands of Dr. Luke Naeher, Associate Professor of Health Science in the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, students not only learn theories and concepts explaining the interaction of environment and health, but come to grasp their applications and effects on health professionals, health agencies, and health delivery systems throughout the world. As one student of the 2013 offering of Environmental Health noted, “Luke was extremely responsive. His knowledge on the subject matter far exceeded any of my expectations. The work load was dense and challenging in subject matter, but it was very rewarding. Luke's teaching style was incredibly supportive and engaging. He is a great encourager and facilitator of critical thinking.”

Few courses are more valuable than those which teach the art of critical thinking in relation to environmental problems relevant to the entire world community, but Environmental Health is one of those. Au Sable’s class in Environmental Health is unfailingly effective in changing the perspective of students who aspire to be future health professionals, and unfailingly transforming in altering the understanding of health and the environment for every student who participates in this learning experience.