Workshop on Sustainable Development, the Environment and Health

The Development Studies Program sponsored an interdisciplinary workshop on the Emory campus, April 16 – 17, 2015 to explore the linkages between sustainable development, the environment, and health.  Funding for the workshop was provided by the Emory College of Arts and Sciences to begin a conversation toward improving interdisciplinary research and teaching and engagement at our own university and possibly others.  Workshop organizers from Emory were Peter Little (Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Director, Emory Development Studies Program), Uriel Kitron (Goodrich White Professor and Chair of Environmental Sciences) and David Nugent (Professor of Anthropology and Directory, Masters in Development Practice Program.)

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss: (1) emerging areas of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice that address intersections of two or more of these fields (sustainable development, environment, and/or health); (2) institutional experiences of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and public engagement at different universities; and (3) possible models for enhancing interdisciplinary linkages among development, environment, and health-related fields. 

These goals were motivated by conference organizers’ perception that opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration exist between development, environmental studies, and health but are constrained by disciplinary blinders and institutional impediments; and that there is much to be learned from what other academic leaders and institutions are doing in related areas.  The workshop organizers also believe that meaningful interdisciplinary work will need to more carefully articulate linkages between academic research and practice, including at Emory University.  

Workshop participants were:



Thomas J. Bassett

Professor of Geography and GIS and Director, LAS Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Eduardo S. Brondizio

Professor, Department of Anthropology, co-Director, Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT), Chair, Advisory Council, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University Bloomington

Alice Pell

International Professor, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University

Joshua Rosenthal

Senior Scientist, Division of Epidemiology and Population Studies, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health

Marianne Schmink

Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Tropical Conservation and Development Program, University of Florida


Tom Crick

Associate Director, Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

Uriel Kitron

Goodrich White Professor and Chair of Environmental Sciences, Emory University

Peter Little

Professor and Chair of Department of Anthropology and Director, Emory Program in Development Studies, Emory University

David Nugent

Professor, Department of Anthropology and Director, Master’s in Development Practice, Emory University

Justin Remais

Associate Professor, Global Environmental Health and Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution; Director, Graduate Program in Global Environmental Health, Emory University; Adjunct Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Carla Roncoli

Associate Director and Director of Graduate Studies, Master’s in Development Practice and Senior Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology, Emory University

Paige Tolbert

Professor and Chair, Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University


Daniel Thompson

PhD Student, Anthropology Department, Emory University

Jillian Kenny

Graduate Student, Master in Development Practice, Laney Graduate School, Emory University

 Participants were asked to prepare a 3-5 page statement that responded to a small set of questions:

  • What are the three most important global challenges that universities should be addressing and why?
  • What are examples of important interdisciplinary research programs that address these global challenges and engage communities of practitioners?
  • What innovations in curriculum and teaching (undergraduate and graduate) do you know that address the workshop theme and/or the global challenges that you identify?
  • What institutional models at universities have been successful in promoting interdisciplinary research and teaching on the workshop theme?  What have been the key elements that have contributed to their success?

A workshop report will be completed and posted soon.