Climate Crisis and Clinical Medicine Virtual Elective for Medical Students

Today’s medical students will be on the front lines of clinical medicine in the Anthropocene, the geologic era marked by human activity and climate change. Climate-driven exposures harm patients and increasingly intense natural disasters disrupt healthcare delivery. At the same time, many of the actions needed to address climate change – to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a more sustainable future — also benefit health. This virtual elective is designed for M3 and M4 students who are interested in furthering their understanding of the intersection of the climate crisis and clinical medicine.

This 4 week course will cover Climate Change and Emerging Clinical Challenges, Health Equity and Social Justice, Climate Solutions for the Healthcare Sector, and Communicating about Climate Change. Students will learn about recognizing, managing, and mitigating the many-faceted consequences of climate change for health and healthcare delivery that they will face in their practice. Core lectures by climate and health experts from around the country anchor the elective. Readings, supplemental activities and virtual small group exercises are suggested and can be tailored to place and geography.

Thank you to all the faculty experts who lent their time and expertise to make this course possible. And thank you to all the students for bringing this course to life with your enthusiasm and engagement …and for how you will carry these lessons forward in your practice. ~Becca Philipsborn, MD, MPA

Revisit this post to view recordings of each lecture. Comment and let us know what you think about this curriculum. Reach out to Dr. Philipsborn if you want to learn more, re-purpose the course content, or continue the conversation!


Climate 101: What Every Clinician Needs to Know

Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Interim Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Pollution, Climate Change, and the Growing Global Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases

Dr. Philip Landrigan, Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, Boston College


Climate, CO2, Plants and Public Health: Allergies

Dr. Lewis Ziska, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University


Mesoamerican Nephropathy: Role of Heat Stress and Uric Acid

Dr. Richard Johnson, University of Colorado School of Medicine


Baked Bacteria, Volatile Viruses, and Flooded Fungi: Infectious Diseases in a Changing Climate

Dr. Saul R. Hymes, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Stoney Brook Children’s Hospital, SUNY Stony Brook


Climate Change: An Ecological and Health Equity Crisis

Dr. Gaurab Basu, Cambridge Health Alliance


How Climate Change is Changing Women’s Health: Health, Security and Human Rights

Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, University of Colorado School of Medicine and School of Public Health


Child Health in a Changing Climate

Dr. Samantha Ahdoot, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action and Virginia Commonwealth University


The enduring legacy of inequitable exposure to extreme heat in US urban areas

Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, Science Museum of Virginia


Climate Change and Environmental Justice: Exploring Urban Environmental Health Disparities

Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Spelman College


Climate-driven Natural Disasters

Dr. Jesse E. Bell, University of Nebraska Medical Center


State of Sustainability in the Healthcare Sector

Dr. Aparna Bole, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine


Audio Only: Q&A with Dr. Howard Frumkin, University of Washington

Click the play button to listen to the audio file.



Health Co-Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation

Dr. Jonathan Patz, University of Wisconsin-Madison


The Global Climate Emergency: Psychological Aspects

Dr. Lise van Susteren, Climate Psychiatry Alliance and Physicians for Social Responsibility


The Role of the Physician in Climate Change

Dr. Kevin Chan, University of Toronto and Trillium Health Partners


Climate Advocacy Panel

Dr. Jairo Garcia, CEO of Urban Climate Nexus, Chair of Climate Reality Project Atlanta Chapter
Lisa Thompson, Associate Professor, Emory Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
Jerome A. Paulson, MD, George Washington University

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