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Environmental Health Courses
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Environmental Health Courses overview
Environmental health is a component of public health concerned with creating environments conducive of healthy living. It is focussed primarily on creating healthy places to live rather than other public health considerations like genetics. Postgraduate study is designed to give students the means to enter government and inform decisions of public health using knowledge of environmental health principles, practices and laws.
Thomas Robert Malthus (1766 - 1834) was one of the first to observe and document the poor living environments and number of children reared by impoverished people. His work inspired Darwin’s theory of natural selection, but it also illustrated the inextricable link between environment and well-being. The role of environment on public health has been considered of paramount importance ever since.
Modern environmental health professionals assess as many elements contributing to the well-being of societies as possible. They make life in cities and smaller communities alike all the better.
Is environmental health for me?
Environmental health is ideal for those with a thirst to see the bigger picture. It has professionals assessing many elements of a society, including its laws, governance, activist groups, socially responsible corporations and more. If you’re someone who excels at bringing together many disparate pieces of information to assemble a complete pictures, environmental health could lead to a well-suited career.
Environmental health can be taken up to master level. Graduate certificates and diplomas are also available for shorter study periods.
Graduate certificates provide the chance to gain an entry-level understanding of the field, taking six months of full time study to complete or up to a year part time. Institutions like Murdoch University use their courses to provide units in climate science policy, energy policy, carbon management and more depending on the course. This particular course has a focus on clean energy and sustainable living, but other programs might be devoted to biostatistics or surveying populations. Graduate certificates in this field are therefore fairly versatile and best-suited to those with clear career ambitions in mind. Entry is normally granted to applicants across disciplines, with no prior experience required.
Graduate diplomas provide slightly more breadth of learning, taking one year of full time study to complete or up to two years part time. Queensland University of Technology offer these courses to students across disciplines, providing units in population health, environmental health law, concepts of environmental health, risk assessment, food safety and more. This makes them a fantastic way of gaining well-rounded insight into the field rather than the specificity provided by graduate certificates.
Master degrees provide comprehensive knowledge of the field, taking two years of full time study to complete, or up to four years part time. RMIT and similar institutions allow entry to students from any discipline, provided they hold a bachelor’s degree. Units offered throughout these courses vary slightly depending on institution. RMIT’s course in sustainable practice, for instance, is mostly spent doing sustainability projects as dictated by a supervisor. On the other hand, QUT’s course is designed to serve a similar purpose to its diploma; namely, provide broad knowledge through coursework. Students are therefore advised to select a program that best suits their career ambitions and preferred learning methods.
Environmental health officer
These professionals safeguard the health and safety standards of communities or singular institutions through the use of inspections and investigations. They enter premises to take photos and water samples, check the welfare of livestock, monitor noise levels, acquire evidence for legal proceedings, remove refuse and whatever else may be required to maintain environmental health standards at any given location.
Joining associations like Environmental Health Australia are an excellent way to gain valuable connections and learn more about the field. It can even lead to employment at institutions of varying scale, from assisting policy makers in local governments and consultants like HighEHS to the World Health Organisation, a career in this sector can go very far.
Another route to employment are agencies like Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, where this skill set is well-suited, or even in supermarkets. Even the Army has need of environmental health and safety officers to make sure soldiers are training and living in sound conditions wherever possible.