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May 5, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2007

Wheeler, David
School of Public Health
Biostatistics Department

2007

Project Summary

I attended the Piedmont Project in 2007 to learn more generally about sustainability, particularly related to inequalities in exposure to environmental hazards and the effects on public health, and more specifically Emory University’s sustainability initiatives. I plan to use my experience in the Piedmont Project to enhance a class I taught once previously, INFO 530: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Public Health, in the Rollins School of Public Health. The course is intended for graduate students in public health, across all the many sub-disciplines that comprise the school. The previous incarnation of the course was largely a technical overview of GIS software and methods, and lacked a specific and unified substantive theme. In reshaping the course for the future, I chose to focus the content more on environmental health and sustainability issues. Specifically, the course project, which comprises a substantial portion of the course evaluation, will involve a written assessment of an environmental justice situation in the Atlanta area using GIS technology. One example of a local situation for possible analysis that came up during the project was the concentration of industrial and Superfund sites, as well as sewage overflow locations, in predominantly minority residential areas in southern Atlanta. There will also be assigned readings related to environmental justice assessment to serve as background for the course project, and as foundation for group discussion. In addition, one of the weekly lab assignments will be comprised of a data collection exercise using global positioning system (GPS) devices that focuses on the sustainable initiatives of Emory University through visiting numerous LEED certified green and EarthCraft buildings, sustainable gardens, and recycling locations around campus. As background for the GPS lab exercise, I will present in lecture introductory material related to the three components of sustainability, while focusing primarily on the environmental component. In addition to the focusing of the course project and GPS lab on some environmental issues related to sustainability, I will include more readings and applied examples in the course that address environmental hazards and their relation to public health. There are many examples in the literature of using GIS technology to model and visualize air, water, and soil quality, so there is a rich set of resources from which to draw material.




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