On November 13, representatives from the University of New England participated in a webinar, hosted by the Planetary Health Alliance, which focused on building planetary health programs at universities across the globe. The Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and other groups that promote the growth of planetary health – a multidisciplinary field that studies and addresses the impacts of humans on the Earth’s natural systems. UNE joined as an institutional member of the Planetary Health Alliance in April 2017.
Holly Parker, M.Ed., assistant provost for Strategic Initiatives and associate director of UNE NORTH, facilitated the panel of international speakers who shared their successes and lessons learned about integrating planetary health at their institutions. Jennifer Gunderman-King, M.P.H., assistant lecturer in public health, assisted with the planning of the webinar and participated as a speaker on the panel, highlighting the ways in which UNE has engaged stakeholders in establishing university-wide planetary health efforts.
Specifically, Gunderman-King noted the University’s development of an interdisciplinary Planetary Health Council and recognized UNE’s coordination of a World Café event that brought together more than 40 students, staff and faculty to solicit feedback for the University’s planetary health strategic plan. Gunderman-King also reported that UNE provided support to a student who presented at the Planetary Health Alliance international conference, held in May in Scotland, and hosted a One Health Catalyst Network meeting last month to encourage conversations about planetary health activities in Maine.
Parker said that the webinar was a valuable experience for all involved. “The PHA webinar demonstrated how a variety of institutions around the globe are integrating planetary health concepts and skills into their programs across a range of disciplines,” she remarked. “It is always helpful, and inspiring, to learn from your colleagues, especially when working in an emerging field.”
Other speakers in the webinar included representatives from University of Minnesota School, University of Toronto, Cornell University, Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Brunel University, University of Sydney, University of California and Doane University.
Learn more about Planetary Health at UNE