Professor Presents Planetary Health Education Research

Dr. Brett Bayles, assistant professor for Global Public Health at Dominican University of California, is a co-author of a new paper published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

The study, titled “A Framework to Guide Planetary Health Education” presents a first-of-its-kind guide for integrating planetary health principles in higher education curriculum with a common foundational language. This project is the product of an ongoing interdisciplinary working group coordinated by the Planetary Health Alliance at Harvard University.

Dr. Bayles, along with a panel of working group members, presented the framework this week during the Planetary Health Annual Meeting, hosted virtually by the University of São Paulo and Planetary Health Alliance.

The paper is aimed at the challenges of educating students to better respond to today’s interconnected environmental, social, and health crises facing the world, especially in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The emerging field of planetary health is a framework for understanding these interconnections and identifying solutions to the complex challenges confronting civilization on a rapidly changing planet.
Higher education institutions were targeted for research for their unique positioning within societies worldwide, as respected sources of thought leadership, and as crucial stakeholders in development efforts. The framework is relevant for learners of all levels in higher education.

In Dominican’s School of Health and Natural Sciences, Bayles’ research has focused on planetary health and the epidemiology of emerging infectious diseases. Planetary health, which draws on the connections between the health of ecosystems and the health of people, provides an effective framework for better understanding and predicting the root causes of pandemics, with the ultimate goal of preventing pandemics from happening.

A manuscript in April 2020 by Bayles examining the role of deforestation, protected indigenous territories, and vector-borne disease emergence in Costa Rica was published in The Lancet Global Health, with some of his undergraduate students listed as co-authors. This planetary health student-faculty research group also published a paper in the Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene exploring changing patterns of neglected tropical disease in Costa Rica. A 2020 article in the Marin Independent Journal noted that Dominican introduced a timely new minor in planetary health — an emerging academic discipline that’s receiving attention these days due to COVID-19 and the growing threat of future pandemics.

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