The Threat of Poor Urban Design to Public Health

Scott Carlson profiles the work of Dr. Richard J. Jackson, chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA's School of Public Health, one of the leading voices calling for better urban design for the sake of good health.
January 23, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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For much of the past decade, Dr. Jackson has been trumpeting the connection between urban design and many of the most urgent public health issues affecting Americans today. Advocating from various platforms including his past position as head of the National Center for Environmental Health at the CDC, books including "Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities" (Island Press, 2004), and a new mini-series for public television called Designing Healthy Communities, Jackson's work has earned its share of critics, from Libertarians to the National Association of Home Builders.

Dr. Jackson is currently focused on efforts to make a much broader group of people aware of their role in public health, not just health providers or health practitioners. "If we are going to change the way we build our communities, it has got to be done because of the demand of the citizenry-a demand that the average, very busy local political leader can understand," Dr. Jackson says. "We humans are so adaptable that we look at the world that we are in and we think, It has to be this way. But everything around us was an idea in someone's head before it was built. In large part, the idea behind the series is to alter what's in our head."

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Published on Sunday, January 22, 2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education
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