Planetary Health Education



The PHA is curating a collection of planetary health teaching materials to serve as a rich open-access and globally-accessible resource, designed to infuse existing disciplines with planetary health concepts and educate the next generation of planetary health scholars. This is a fundamentally collaborative effort to create a global good for planetary health education and input from international networks will produce materials that are contextually relevant around the world.

To facilitate the sharing of education resources, the Planetary Health Alliance is collecting information on ‘who is working on what, where‘ and populating a geographic map [link to home page map] so that educators around the world may connect with others working on similar projects. If you or your institution are involved in planetary health education, please let us know by filling out this this form or contacting: Please note that the utility of this thematic knowledge architecture is primarily structural; the field of planetary health explores the linkages and relationships between thematic areas. Join the online Planetary Health Education community here.


Build your course

There are many ways to design your planetary health course. The goal of this section is to provide you with guidance and examples of how educators at institutions around the world have designed their courses, so that you are able to develop a rich and rigorous course for your own context.

Here are two examples of planetary health syllabi for courses taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Below you will find a step-by-step guide to support you in the design and development of your course in planetary health.

Overarching Structure

The overarching structure of your course, meaning the total number, frequency and duration of sessions, forms the critical scaffolding from which we will begin to build.

When considering your overarching structure (e.g. a week-long course versus a semester-long course, 20 sessions of 60 minutes each versus 12 sessions of 120 minutes each), also consider your grading system, examination schedule and any school holidays.

Organize Your Course

There are a multitude of ways for you to organize your course. When organizing your course, the audience and your own areas of expertise will help you determine the most effective method of organization. Below you will find two key questions to consider when organizing your course, though there are many other options. These are provided as a starting point.


Ecosystem Transformations and Health Impacts
To provide a framework for understanding the breadth of the field of planetary health, two primary categories – ecosystem transformations and health impacts - comprising a total 15 thematic areas have been defined. The field of planetary health explores the linkages and relationships between thematic areas. In organizing your course, you may find it helpful to organize around either ecosystem transformations or health impacts.

Broad Survey or Topical Concentration
As the field of planetary health encompasses many topics and is so complex, consider the tension between breadth and depth when organizing your course. Depending on your audience, you may opt for your course to take on more of the characteristics of a general survey course, or to provide a deeper dive into a specific thematic area [link to thematic areas].


Here are two examples of survey style courses. In these courses, each week’s thematic area could be developed into a semester long course.


Here are two examples of courses that concentrate on specific topics in the context of planetary health.


Topic Selection Per Class

Once you have identified a plan for organizing your course, the selection of specific topics for each class session follows. We encourage you to draw on your own expertise and the expertise of colleagues across departments and disciplines as you begin to identify lecture topics and guest speakers. Each class topic may stand on its own as an individual unit, or you can structure classes as subsequent building blocks. Drawing on your own faculty and faculty in nearby institutions can be a way to simultaneously strengthen your subject expertise and build a community of local scholars and students in planetary health.


These resources may help you to introduce ‘planetary health’ in your course.

  1. Introduction to Planetary Health by Samuel Myers
  2. Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health

The below syllabi provide examples of a variety of topics that instructors at institutions around the world have selected for their class sessions.

  1. For examples of planetary health course syllabi, click here.




Content Population

Consider the story arc of your course as a whole, incuding how each class builds upon the last, as well as the story arc within each class.

The selection of multi-modal resources and activities provided by thematic area may also help you to compose engaging and varied classes, as they align with the topics selected in the previous step. Within each thematic area, you will find a set of learning objectives for that specific topic that may jumpstart your lesson planning. These thematic areas provide a taxonomic structure to organize the educational content, and provide a sense of the variety of topics covered within the field. It is important to note that all of these thematic areas are interconnected and many overlap; their utility is primarily structural.


The category of Ecosystem Transformations includes the thematic areas that are centered around environmental topics:


The category of Health Impacts includes the thematic areas that are centered around public health topics:

Licensing & Fair Use Agreement

All of the content in the collection is licensed for sharing and modification under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0). If you are involved in education on planetary health topics and would like to share teaching materials, please enrich our community! By sharing materials you agree to the terms and conditions outlined in our legal framework. You can share materials here

Content on this site has been collected and curated with the support of the Harvard College Conservation Society 2016-2017 and Jackie Ho.