Planetary Health and Natural History

Authors: Sabrina Sholts1, Daniel Lucey1
Author Affiliations: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Planetary Health is an evolving discipline of enormous scope, where human health is inseparable from the state of Earth systems. By integrating natural and social sciences in a broader conceptualization of public health, Planetary Health necessitates a new community of practice and common source of knowledge about human causes and effects of global environmental change. Communicating across academic and institutional boundaries is an important step to this approach, and one of the major challenges to its development. In Spring of 2017, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) will convene a wide range of researchers, educators, and other professionals in a Planetary Health seminar. Our aim is to increase communication between disciplines and organizations through a series of focused panel discussions, which comprise different perspectives on a specific topic of Planetary Health, such as climate change, globalization, pollution and pan-epidemics. In addition to NMNH scientists, whose research spans Anthropology to Mineral Sciences to Paleobiology, the seminar engages experts from outside NMNH and the Smithsonian, as well as students from around Washington, D.C. In facilitating the exchange of information, ideas, and insights on Planetary Health, this course is a valuable opportunity to explore the possibilities of this growing field.

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