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Clinic in Environmental/Climate Justice, Sustainability, and Public Health

Syllabus: EPH 555b/F&ES 959b - Spring 2020


Robert Dubrow, Marianne Engelman-Lado, Laura Bozzi

Course Description:

In this course, interdisciplinary student teams carry out applied public health research or practice projects in the areas of environmental/climate justice, climate change, sustainability, and public health. Each team works with a sponsoring organization (e.g., unit within Yale, local health department, state agency, community organization, other non-governmental organization). The course affords the opportunity to apply concepts and competencies learned in the classroom to these important areas of environmental/climate justice, climate change, sustainability, and public health. This course should be of interest to students across Yale School of Public Health, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the University, including Yale College juniors and seniors. In addition, this course is one of the options available to students to fulfill the practice requirement for the MPH degree.

Course Learning Objectives:

Successful completion of this course will enable students to:

  • Apply knowledge and skills learned in their coursework to an important public health problem.
  • Within a defined timeframe, work as part of an interdisciplinary collaborative team to design, implement, and evaluate a concrete public health project that complies with established YSPH criteria for the MPH practicum experience.
  • Present an in-depth review of a specific practical problem in environmental/climate justice, climate change, sustainability, and public health.
  • Utilize team building, negotiation, and conflict management skills.
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrate specific competencies selected from the YSPH core curriculum and student’s area of concentration that are pertinent to the clinic project.
  • Demonstrate attainment of competencies in the areas of leadership, communication, interprofessional practice, diversity and culture, community-based participatory research, and professionalism.
  • Explain and value the intimate connection among climate change, sustainability, public health, and justice.

Meeting Place and Time:

Monday, 5:00 pm to 6:50 pm, LEPH 101

Course Website:

The course website can be accessed through Canvas. Course announcements, readings, and other information are posted on the website.

Clinic Manual:

The clinic manual contains useful reference information for the course. It is available on the Canvas site in the files section, as well as on the shared drive.

Office Hours:

By appointment.

Contacting the Instructors:

The best way to contact them is by e-mail: 

A Note about the Instructors:

Each project team will be assigned a faculty supervisor. However, all instructors are available to provide guidance to students (individually or as a team), as needed. The instructors have expertise in different areas, which may be helpful as teams work through the variety of project elements.

Course Requirements:

a. Project implementation: The major time commitment for this course is implementation of the team project, with an expectation of 8-10 hours per week. Projects are identified in advance by the instructors in consultation with potential sponsoring organizations. Types of projects include, but are not limited to, developing policy recommendations and writing a “white paper” or policy brief; researching and writing a technical report; analyzing and interpreting data (either pre-existing data or data collected during the project, such as key informant interview, focus group, or air pollution monitoring data); conducting a project based on principles of community-based participatory research; conducting strategic planning; developing and conducting a workshop; or developing educational, communications and/or outreach strategies and/or materials. Teams usually consist of 2-4 students.
Students apply for admission to the course, including ranking of their project preferences. The selected students are assigned to a project and make a commitment to enroll in the course. Each team is advised by a preceptor(s) from the sponsoring organization, as well as by the course instructors. The expectation is that preceptors will have an in-person meeting or phone conference with the team at least every other week, as well as email communication as needed.
These are the Spring 2020 projects (click on the hyperlink to view the project description):


Organization Name

Connecticut & Climate Change: Leader or Laggard?

Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound

Connecticut Environmental Justice (EJ) Tool  

Environmental Justice Program, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Health & Environmental Justice in Alabama: Pollution Impacts in Two Low-Income African American Communities

Ashurst Bar/Smith Community Organization (Tallassee), Tuskegee University (Tallassee), Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health & Justice (Uniontown), the School of Public Health, University of Maryland-College Park (Uniontown), and the EJ Clinic at Vermont Law School

Managing Non-Communicable Diseases after Natural Disasters in the Caribbean

Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Organization

  Countering Environmental Racism in Cosmetics: Research Support for the #BeautyInsideOut Campaign

WE ACT for Environmental Justice

  Urban Forestry for Climate and Health

American Forests

 b. Class attendance and participation: Weekly class sessions will consist of team meetings as well as meetings of the entire class to review common issues (such as protection of human subjects), assess progress, discuss and propose solutions to problems that arise in project implementation, share experiences and best practices among teams, and provide opportunity for instructor and cross-team feedback.
c. First weeks' activities: During the 2 weeks, teams are expected to review applicable project materials (for continuing projects: past reports, transition memo, materials on shared drive; for all projects: project description, other materials as provided). By January 17, teams will submit to their faculty supervisor a list of questions/ areas of discussion regarding the project. By January 21, teams will submit to their faculty supervisor an abbreviated Gantt chart (see item d below) with initial tasks for weeks 2 and 3. 
d. Work plan, including Gantt Chart (interim products/tasks, timeline, and persons responsible): This requirement (graded complete/incomplete) is essential for project implementation. The work plan will be a working document that will serve as a guide to project progress throughout the semester. Interim products are essential products (e.g., literature review, IRB protocol, questionnaire, data abstraction form) needed to enable timely completion of each project and will be determined early in the semester by each team in consultation with preceptors and the instructors. As noted in item c, the due date for a work plan for weeks 2 and 3 is January 21; the due date for the full Gantt chart is February 3.
e. Team written interim products: The specific products and due dates will be determined through consultation between the team and instructors, after the work plan has been finalized. These interim products will be graded complete/incomplete.
f. Supervision meetings: Weekly one-hour supervision meetings will be held with the faculty supervisor for the project. As the term progresses, students may be asked to submit drafts or other work products in advance of these meetings.
g. MId-term individual progress report, in which students submit hours devoted to the project, project-related activities, and challenges encountered. The due date is Friday, February 21.
h. Team-led workshops: Each team will lead a 1-hour class session on a topic related to their project and of relevance to the course. This may be a workshop that enables the class to provide input about a product a team is developing  (e.g. beta-testing a draft survey and receiving feedback from the class) or a seminar-style discussion on an issue the team is grappling with, such as an environmental/climate justice, community-based participatory research, or team dynamics issue. The topic will be determined in consultation with the instructors, and the dates will be set by approximately January 31. 
i. Mid-term individual check-in between each student and one of the course instructors (graded complete/incomplete).These will take place on Monday, February 24.
j. Team oral mid-term progress reports: These will cover progress to date. They will take place on Monday,  March 2.
k. Team first draft of final written report:  The purpose of this first draft (graded complete/incomplete) is to allow time for instructor feedback before the final written report is finalized. The first draft is due on Friday, April 10.
l. Team final oral presentation: The final oral presentation should present the background and significance, methods, results, discussion and conclusions and recommendations of the project. The final oral presentations will take place on Monday, April 27.
m. Team final written report: The final written report format will be tailored to the needs of the project, but will include an executive summary and likely sections on background and significance, methods, results, discussion, conclusions and recommendations, and references. In addition, we encourage liberal use of appendices with supporting documents (e.g., questionnaire, intervention guide). Based on the needs of the project, two reports may be needed: one technical report and one community report. The final written report will be due Monday, May 4.
n. Individual self-reflection: Each student will write a short paper (2-4 pages, double-spaced) consisting of a critical evaluation (strengths, weaknesses, challenges) of his or her contributions to the project and how working on the project has addressed selected MPH core competencies. The due date is Wednesday, May 6.
o. Peer evaluations: At the end of the semester each student will anonymously evaluate the performance of his or her team members. The due date is Wednesday, May 6.

Summary of due dates:

  • List of questions/areas of discussion - January 17 
  • Workplan/Gantt chart (weeks 2 and 3) - January 21 
  • Workplan/Gantt chart (full) - February 3 
  • Mid-term individual progress report - February 21 
  • Team oral mid-term progress reports - March 2 
  • Team first draft of final written report - April 10 
  • Team final oral presentation - April 27 
  • Team final written report - May 4 
  • Individual self-reflection - May 6 
  • Peer evaluations - May 6


The grade for the course will be calculated as follows:
Student’s contributions to project, which includes

  • Attendance and participation
  • Mid-term individual progress report
  • Individual self-reflection
  • Peer evaluations
  • Instructors’ observations - 45%

Team oral progress report - 10%
Team final oral presentation - 10%
Team final written report - 35%

Your numerical course grade will translate into your transcript grade as follows:
>90 Honors (A- to A for Yale College students)
80 – 89.99 High Pass (B- to B+ for Yale College students)
65 – 79.99 Pass (70-79.99: C- to C+; 65-69.99: D for Yale College students)
<65 Fail

Policy on late submission of assignments: The assignment will be graded down by 10 points for each day late.

Classroom etiquette:

During class, please turn off cell phones and pagers and please do not surf the internet, text, or read your email.

Academic integrity:

Academic integrity is a core institutional value at Yale. It means truth in presentation, diligence and precision in citing works and ideas you have used, and acknowledging collaborations with others. Violations of academic integrity include cheating on exams, problem sets and all other forms of assessment; falsification or fabrication of data; plagiarism, that is, the failure in a dissertation, essay or other written exercise to acknowledge ideas, research, or language taken from others; and multiple submission of the same work without obtaining explicit written permission from both instructors before the material is submitted. Students suspected of violations of academic integrity will be referred to the YSPH Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity. Students found guilty of violations by the Committee are subject to written reprimand, probation (noted on a student’s transcript), suspension (noted on a student’s transcript) or dismissal (noted on a student’s transcript). In addition, violations will result in failure of the course. Students will sign the following statement at the end of each written assignment: I certify that this is my own original work and that I have not committed plagiarism.

Environmental and climate justice:

Projects directly or indirectly address environmental and/or climate justice. Issues related to the roles of race, ethnicity, and class in society and in public health are critical and will be discussed explicitly. We welcome and expect active participation in this discussion.

Travel reimbursement:

Some of the projects involve travel (local or long-distance). The course will reimburse students for necessary travel. However, we ask that you travel in the most efficient way possible to minimize costs. For local travel, the course will reimburse for bus fare, train tickets, taxi fare, ridesharing services (Uber, Lyft), carsharing services (Zip Car), personal vehicle mileage costs when it’s the most cost-efficient alternative (e.g. when personal vehicle is used for carpooling to transport multiple students, and individual cases where there are no other reasonable options), and parking fees. For travel to Hartford, students are strongly advised to use the high-speed train that runs from New Haven to Hartford. For long-distance travel, the course will reimburse for flights, hotels, car rental, and food and beverage expenses.
The course will not provide reimbursement for the following:   

  • Personal vehicle mileage for individual students when other public transportation is available, with the exception of individual students who are using a personal vehicle to provide carpooling service for 2 or more fellow practicum course students.
  • Personal vehicle maintenance/repairs, insurance, premium car/limo service
  • Parking tickets
  • Expenses without a receipt or proof of payment
  • Travel to sites serviced by the Yale Shuttle

To receive reimbursement, you must submit a travel record with date, purpose of travel, and mode of travel, (e.g., February 28, 2020, travel to Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management [address], carpool with 3 other students [name the students]), along with appropriate receipts. For local travel, please submit the travel record for reimbursement on March 2 (mid-semester) and April 27 (end of semester).

Class Schedule:

Class time will be divided between (1) lectures, workshops, and discussions on topics related to the course and projects; (2) team meetings and consultations with course instructors.

Class schedule: 

  • January 13: Introduction
  • January 17 (Friday): Team expectations and organization
  • January 27: Institutional Review Board
  • February 3: Qualitative research analysis
  • February 10: Team-led workshop
  • February 17: Team-led workshop
  • February 24: Mid-term individual check-in meetings
  • March 2: Team oral mid-term progress reports
  • March 23: Team-led workshop
  • March 30: Team-led workshop
  • April 6: Team-led workshop
  • April 13: Team-led workshop
  • April 20: TBD
  • April 27 (Reading week: final oral presentation)
rev. 1.22.2020