Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and Portland State University (PSU) School of Public Health

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MPH in Environmental Systems & Human Health

Program Overview

Core Competencies


The MPH in Environmental Systems & Human Health (ESHH) track offers ecosystem-based public health training for students who would like to investigate and remediate environmental impacts on human health. Believing that a healthy environment is a cornerstone of preventative medicine, the goal of the ESHH track is to produce graduates who will be able to analyze relationships between human activities, the environment, and human health. Areas of emphasis include environmental change and its effect on human health, environmental pathogens, environmental transport, fate and remediation of chemical contaminants, food web bioaccumulation, wastewater treatment, environmental risk assessment and toxicity testing, culturally competent risk communication, and social justice issues. Within the ESHH track special attention will be given to mediating and modifying the effects of environmental disruptions on the health of vulnerable populations in a culturally competent, ethical manner.

An accurate and current example of the Program of Study can be viewed in the relevant Student Handbook.

Students graduating from this track will be able to:

  • Communicate the relationship between environmental systems and human health, particularly in response to a changing climate.
  • Analyze how environmental hazards (chemical, physical and biological) interact with natural and built systems, including the mechanisms of their adverse effects on humans.
  • Assess and interpret relevant literature in the area of public health and environmental hazards.
  • Evaluate the risk of environmental exposures to human populations through the incorporation of exposure, toxicological, and other relevant data into risk assessment methodology.
  • Discuss how federal and state regulatory programs, guidelines and authorities impact environmental and occupational health issues.
  • Apply ethical principles that govern the practice of environmental risk assessment, management, and communication.
  • Specify approaches for assessing, preventing and controlling environmental and occupational hazards that pose risks to human health and safety.
  • Integrate, synthesize and apply theory to practice in the context of a research study, policy consequences, or environmental exposure.
  • Explain the general mechanisms of toxicity in eliciting a human health effect in response to various environmental and occupational exposures.

Application questions – Josh Hodsden, MBA

Registration questions – Laura Ehrlich, M.Ed.

Program Director – Tawnya Peterson, PhD