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ABSTRACT

The need to transcend disciplinary boundaries in the teaching of environmental studies has become increasingly obvious. It has been particularly recognized that the relationship between environmental factors and human health needs to be taught much more broadly at universities. An international collaborative effort was begun to develop a course to teach core knowledge in environmental health to health professionals as well as others from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds. The course utilizes interactive learning methods and takes a holistic approach to the subject matter, linking the macro socioeconomic issues with the physical, chemical, biological, mechanical, and psychological hazards, as well as with the human health effects. It also aims to build skills in risk assessment, management, and communication. Several meetings (with representatives from the World Health Organization, the United National Environment Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation, and the Council of Rectors of European Universities), a survey completed by 120 universities, a 3-day workshop (with teachers from across the globe), and three 2-week train-the-trainer courses (one in the Baltic, one in the Danube region, and one in South Africa) led to the conclusion that interdisciplinary, interactive teaching materials were highly desired, feasible to develop through international collaboration, and conducive to conveying the basic principles and methodologies needed to address environmental health problems.