Climate and health education: A critical review at one medical school

Lucy Greenwald, Olivia Blanchard, Colleen Hayden, Perry Sheffield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: As medical schools continue to improve and refine their undergraduate curricula, they are also redefining the roadmap for preparing future generations of physicians. Climate change is a critical topic to integrate into medical education. This period of change for undergraduate medical education coincides with a surge in interest and design efforts for climate and health curricula in health professional education, but this nascent field has yet to be solidly institutionalized. To continue to grow the number of medical students who achieve competency in the effects of climate change on individual health and the health of the planet during their training, we must examine what has worked to date and continue to shift our approach as curricular changes are implemented for feasibility and relevancy. Objective and methods: In the present study, we assessed the “climate and health” content at one northeastern U.S. medical school that is undergoing an overhaul of their entire curriculum to explore strategies to deliver more robust climate health education in the context of the educational redesign. We conducted 1) a retrospective review of the now four-year-old initiative to investigate the sustainability of the original content, and 2) semi-structured interviews with lecturers, course directors, and medical education coordinators involved in implementation, and with faculty tasked with developing the upcoming curricular redesign. Results and discussion: Of the original implementation plan, the content was still present in nine of the 14 lectures. Themes determined from our conversations with involved faculty included the need for 1) a shared vision throughout the content arc, 2) further professional development for faculty, and 3) involvement of summative assessment for students and the content itself to ensure longevity. The interviews also highlighted the importance of developing climate-specific resources that fit within the school's new curricular priorities. This critical review can serve as a case study in curriculum to inform other schools undergoing similar changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1092359
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - 12 Jan 2023


  • climate change
  • curricular redesign
  • curriculum
  • education
  • medicine


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