Academic Curriculum for Planning Education

A model course is provided that covers material for a three credit course and is organized into four broad units over a fifteen-week semester:

  • Unit 1: Planning and Public Health Foundations (Planning History, Public Health History, Interdisciplinary Applications) (2 weeks)
  • Unit 2: Natural and Built Environments (Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality, Water Quality, Food Security, Land Use and Transportation, Planning Design Approaches, Environmental Impact Assessments, Health Impact Assessments) (6 weeks)
  • Unit 3: Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities (Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities, Mental Health, Social Capital, Environmental Justice) (3 weeks)
  • Unit 4: Health Policy and Global Impacts (Health Policy, Sustainable Planning and Global Warming, Healthy Housing) (3 weeks)
  • Final Learning and Reflection (1 week)

Learning Goals

The aim of the course is to provide understanding of the interactions between the built environment and health, and skills to engage these issues as professional planners, public health practitioners and other related professionals.  More specifically, the learning goals are for students to:

  1. 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. 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, sociologists and anthropologists to address current health impacts of the built environment.
  3. 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. Adopt new feelings, interests or values based on issues addressed throughout the semester.
  5. 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.
  6. Integrate current evidence regarding the impacts of the built environment on health with information and perspectives from other courses and/or personal experiences.

Additional Resources to guide instruction and student learning include:


  • Articles linked to either the full PDF when available for free online or to the abstract

Course Assignments

  • Sample handouts and instructions
  • Sample products from student submissions

Sample syllabi from planning and public health courses


Map of Georgia Tech

Georgia Institute of Technology
School of City and Regional Planning
245 4th St
Atlanta, GA 30332

The Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse was supported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Office of the National Prevention Strategy and Healthy Community Design Program and made possible through additional support from the American Public Health Association, the National Network of Public Health Institutes, and the American Planning Association's Planning and Community Health Research Center. Interested in adding to and supporting the Clearinghouse? Contact the Clearinghouse at