2002), which, in turn, depend upon a grasp of the underlying facts about how economic factors influence health. However, the practice of public health can benefit from better understanding and use of business management techniques (Guarino, 1997).
Urban planning—including zoning, design, sanitary regulations and construction standards—was one of the most pressing preoccupations of 19th century public health (Duffy, 1990; Novak, 1996). During the 20th century, the health aspects of planning grew less pressing, and the focus of the profession turned elsewhere. While the proposition that planning matters to health would not be disputed in the urban planning profession, health concerns remain on the periphery of training and practice. Yet as new research continues to show, the physical environment matters to health (Cohen et al., 2000), and planning can be a tool of intervention—or a means through which social inequalities produce health inequalities (Bullard and Johnson, 2000; Maantay, 2001).
The committee believes that public health is an essential part of the training of citizens, and that it is immediately pertinent to a number of professions. Specialized interdisciplinary training programs, such as those offering joint J.D. and M.P.H. degrees or joint M.P.H. and M.U.P. (masters of urban planning) degrees can create specialists and are important. Our view, however, is that more is needed. Public health literacy, entailing a recognition and basic understanding of how health is shaped by the social and physical environment, is an appropriate and worthy social goal. Further, education directed at improving health literacy at the undergraduate level could also serve to introduce persons to possible careers in public health. The committee recommends that all undergraduates should have access to education in public health.
It is beyond both our charge and our capacity to make specific recommendations about how to incorporate health into diverse curricula. Doubtless the usual challenges to curricular change will arise—faculty flexibility, scarce resources of time, and student interest. The committee does, however, stress the importance and recommend the integration of a more accurate and ecologically oriented view of health into primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in the United States.
This chapter has emphasized the importance of public health education in graduate programs of public health and in other schools and institutions of learning. The following chapter examines the role of local, state, and federal agencies in educating public health professionals.