Fall 2021 - HSCI 403 D100

Health and the Built Environment (3)

Health and the Built Environment

Class Number: 2137

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    BLU 9011, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units including HSCI 330 with a minimum grade of C-.



Relationships between the physical environment in which people live and their health and well being. How the built environment affects physical activity, obesity, exposure to pathogens and toxins, health status, mental health, and risk of illness and injury. How urban form, physical infrastructure, and landscape and building design can promote health. Students with credit for HSCI 309 may not complete this course for credit.


Course Description: This course will explore the interconnections between planning and public health, and equip students with skills and experiences to plan healthy communities. The planning and public health disciplines emerged together with the common goal of preventing infectious disease outbreaks. Since that time, the disciplines diverged; public health following a clinical model and planning focusing on urban design and physical form. However, as the intimate connections between the built environment and disease continue to surface, the planning and public health fields have begun to converge once again. This course is organized in 4 units: (1) planning and public health foundations; (2) natural and built environments; (3) vulnerable populations and health disparities; and (4) integration and health policy.

In some instances, this course is run as a CityStudio partner course (http://citystudiovancouver.com/).


Learning Objectives:                        
1) Foundational Knowledge. To understand public health and planning history, evolution and significant movements to the present, and historical and current theories on the relationship between the built environment and public health.
2) Application. To identify contemporary features of the built environment such as patterns of development, parks, public works projects, houses, and transportation systems that reflect past efforts to influence health, and use methods developed by architects, urban planners, public health professionals, and sociologists to address current health impacts of the built environment.
3) Human Dimensions. To learn about oneself and the context in which others operate to better integrate that understanding when evaluating differing built environments, socioeconomic positions, social and cultural backgrounds, and health status.
4) Integration and Communication. To develop skills to identify studies and engage communities, critique methods and findings, and apply lessons from planning and public health research to current and future problems. Integrate current evidence regarding the impacts of the built environment on health with information and perspectives from other courses and/or personal experiences.

Some offerings of this course may be CityStudio partner courses.


  • Homework and In-class assignments 25%
  • Communication assignment 20%
  • Research overview and bibliography 25%
  • Pecha Kucha/Product and summary report 30%



Dannenberg AL, Frumkin H, Jackson R. 2011. Making Healthy Places. Island Press.  Journal articles and other materials assigned (available via Canvas or through SFU Library).

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.