Global Environmental Health

Global environmental health (GEH) is an emerging, exciting, diverse, and competitive field.  The goal of this new program is to train future leaders and practitioners in the field of global environmental health.  It responds to a growing interest in global health issues by students applying to graduate schools, and builds on the considerable expertise in global environmental health within the Environmental Health Sciences department.

Graduates of the program will gain valuable knowledge and skills for addressing global environmental health disparities through coursework for concentrated learning within the discipline of environmental (and occupational) health; opportunity for experiential learning through internships in resource-poor countries; exposure to the large and diversified research and learning opportunities in global health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the School of Public Health and the university as a whole.

Why Global Environmental Health?

Interest in global health has grown dramatically among public health students over the past decade. Amongst students enrolling for the EHS MPH, there is an interest in focusing on global environmental health issues. More broadly, prospective students are actively seeking public health programs offering a Global Health track.

Graduates of the GEH focus area will find employment opportunities in international consulting firms or corporations, government agencies and with professional associations, or national and international nongovernmental groups. Their skills will be invaluable within agencies or organizations involved in planning and/or delivering environmental interventions programs and health care, advocacy groups, countries, United Nations' agencies, global health initiatives (e.g. the Global Fund to Fight Malaria) or with donors such as governmental agencies, foundations, trusts, corporations, etc.

How do I apply?

You should note in your application that you want to be considered for the GEH focus area. Explain, in your application statement, why you would be a good candidate for a challenging international career track and what your contributions could be.

Competencies and Course Requirements

Students in any one of the specific MPH sub-plans or tailored EHS may wish to enroll if they take two additional EHS courses, out of three offered, geared to global health careers and skills. The philosophy is that the sub-plans provide valuable general skills, but that international work requires additional understanding of the major environmental forces that influence the health of individuals and populations around the world. Students in the GEH track should have a basic understanding of the complexity of global environmental health issues, especially in low-resource settings and be able to identify sources of information concerning global environmental health topics. They should be able to articulate the role of environmental health scientists as advocates for using environmental interventions to improve the health of individuals and populations in their communities and around the world. The additional competencies will be achieved through a selected number of focused courses in combination with coursework within the different sub-plans and opportunity for experiential learning through internship in resource-poor countries.

Students in the GEH focus area will need to take EHS690 and two of the other three courses listed below.  The GEH courses do not have graduate prerequisites and are open to other EHS students.


Upon admission, GEH program students are assigned to EHS faculty with projects overseas according to interests. Many EHS faculty are involved in research and mentoring students overseas. In addition, GEH students may work with other faculty within or outside EHS and the School of Public Health to develop their research interests and internship projects.

It is expected that students in the GEH track will complete an internship of at least six weeks abroad or at US sites that are focused on global health work. It is strongly recommended that students without prior field experience abroad pursue internship opportunities outside the US. Students will work with EHS advisors and faculty and broader university resources (SPH, African Studies Center, International Institute, International Office, etc) to identify resource opportunities and possible university or external funding by taking the required course EHS 690. Once they have demonstrated that they have secured a promising internship and efforts to secure external and University funding, they will have first call on available internship slots in order to ensure that they have a successful internship. Recent EHS graduates in the MPH degree have been very successful in securing internships in many places overseas.

Several students blogged about their 2014 internship experiences

  • EHS690: Practice in Global Environmental Health. 2 Credit Hours. Instructors: Professors Chuanwu Xi and Tim Dvonch
    This course will focus on preparing students for the overseas internship. The course comprises sessions led by participating faculty and considers issues specific to a particular project and/or  particular geographic region. A short project proposal/paper is expected by the end of the term. Students will work closely with lead instructors and individual faculty to identify potential funding sources, apply for fellowships, study background information on specific projects, and receive training on laboratory and field work skills for the specific project they will be working on. Students will also be required to become familiar with cultures and regulations related to international travels in the country of internship.
  • EHS614: Water, Sanitation, and Global Health. 2 Credit Hours. Instructor: Professor Chuanwu Xi 
    Safe water is a basic human right, and thus impairments to water quality and quantity are one of the most critical threats to human health worldwide. This course provides an understanding of such issues from both a theoretical and a practical perspective; students will examine the role that water plays on human health on a global scale, and learn about different intervention approaches in different regions to address this important issue.
  • EHS683: Air Pollution and Global Health. 3 Credit Hours. Instructor: Professor Tim Dvonch
    Clean air is considered to be a basic requirement of human health and well-being. However, air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health worldwide. This course will cover air pollutants, their characterization, ambient concentrations, and effects on human health and the environment, on local to global scales. A wide range of environments will be studied, from remote portions of the globe to urban megacities.
  • EHS633: Evaluation of Global Public Health Nutrition Programs. 3 Credit Hours. Instructor: Professor Andrew Jones
    The global public health community has long relied on research evaluating intervention programs to advance scientific understanding and inform public policy. Evaluation research is essential to policymakers, funders, and researchers—as well as private-sector companies—for determining the effectiveness of policies and programs and informing the design and implementation of future investments. However, despite enormous resources dedicated to evaluation efforts, rigorous and well-planned evaluations that meet the needs of end users are rarely conducted. This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the principles of program evaluation, with an emphasis on global public health and nutrition programs implemented in the "Global South" aimed at addressing a wide range of issues arising from economic disparities. The course will create a space for discussion and practice in which knowledge can be applied to current global health issues.. Course lectures and readings will give special attention to global nutrition programs, though students are encouraged to explore a wide range of public health concerns through their work in the course.
  • EHS672: Life Cycle Assessment: Human Health and Environmental Impacts. 3 Credit Hours. Instructor: Prof. Olivier Jolliet
    Environmental Life Cycle Assessment is a tool to assess the human health and environmental impact of products and systems over the whole product life cycle, from cradle to grave. The course first provides an overview of the impacts generated by consumers, including the students themselves. We then present the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology applied to products and services, according to its four main steps, goal definition, inventory, impact assessment, and interpretation. A special focus is given to the characterization of comparative risks on human health and ecosystems of toxic substances. We then examine the impacts associated with global trade, analyzing what fraction of pollution in Asia and its more than 1 million related deaths per year are due to consumption of products in the U.S. and Europe, and discuss  the potentials and limitations of quantitative LCA compared to other assessment tools. Leading actions in several industrial sectors (automotive, energy, pharmaceutics, and telecom) will be examined through relevant case studies in order to demonstrate how effective environmental life-cycle assessment leads to new product development. Interactive group work and discussion will also take place during courses, starting from your own idea for case studies.

More Information

For answers to questions about the GEH Program, please contact

Tim Dvonch, PhD
Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences