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New, innovative MSc degree course will help leaders tackle impact of climate change on health

A new course at the University of Hull is set to equip health leaders with the advanced knowledge to address the impact of climate change on public health – and is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

As health professionals in NHS trusts, CCGs and other national and international organisations are tasked with producing and implementing strategies to offset the impact of climate change on public health, the new masters degree course will provide the research, strategy and policy-making skills to enable them to excel.

Professor Lesley Smith
dr pedro beltran alvarez
Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez

Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez, Senior Lecturer in Health and Climate Change, Centre for Biomedicine, Hull York Medical School, and co-Director of the new MSc, said: “We really look forward to welcoming current and future health leaders to our friendly campus, and to working with them towards understanding current opportunities to reap the co-benefits of addressing public health and climate issues in a joint and combined way. It is this hope and this passion that drive us towards helping students into their next steps in their careers.”

The course will look at defining the predicted consequences of climate change on, for example, cardiorespiratory disease, vector-borne diseases, infections and immunity, nutrition and health inequalities.

Academic staff from the University of Hull’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Science and Engineering will teach the pioneering course. There will also be a range of guest speakers, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the interactions between climate and health. Through taught teaching sessions, blended learning and the student’s own research, an in-depth understanding of the interconnectedness between human health and the environment will be achieved.

The module content will focus around environmental change, environmental data analysis, infection and immunity and there will be a dissertation on health and climate change. The course is offered on a full or part-time basis.

Professor Lesley Smith, Professor of Women’s Public Health and co-Director of the MSc Health and Climate Change, said: “We hope this novel MSc will inspire students to embrace the challenges of climate change and impacts on planetary and human health to generate innovative ideas and become global health ambassadors in the era of the Anthropocene.”

The University of Hull has established collaborations with local authorities and organisations and has paired up with existing and successful MSc programmes at the University to ensure that graduates of the new masters degree programme will acquire the skills and the expertise that they need to become leaders in their chosen field of health and climate change.

We hope this novel MSc will inspire students to embrace the challenges of climate change and impacts on planetary and human health to generate innovative ideas and become global health ambassadors.

Professor Lesley Smith

Professor of Women’s Public Health and co-Director of the MSc Health and Climate Change

Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez is a member of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and of the Yorkshire Climate Action Coalition. He is a chemical engineer (environmental specialism) by background and completed his PhD at the University of Bristol (2004-2007) funded by a Marie Curie grant from the EU. After a short stage in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, Heidelberg, 2007-2009), Dr Beltran-Alvarez joined the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Girona (2009), where he gained a Sara Borrell Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Spanish Government (2011-2014). He then joined the University of Hull in 2015 as a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, becoming a Senior Lecturer in Health and Climate Change in 2022.

Professor Lesley Smith joined the University of Hull in 2018. She has published extensively on alcohol research including alcohol and pregnancy, maternal health, midwifery-led intrapartum care and over the last five years has carried out research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa. She has a background in quantitative research methods and currently Professor Smith is an academic adviser panel member for the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. In 2020, with Professor Monica Magadi, she set up the Hull Global Health Research Network, and in 2023 will be co-leading a research theme focused on Global Health/Sustainable Development within the Institute of Clinical and Applied Health Research (ICAHR).

The University of Hull is committed to social justice and building an inclusive society. Driven by its vision to create a fairer, brighter, carbon neutral future, the University is to working towards widening social inclusion – shaping a society that is built on equity, integrity and respect, tackling health inequalities and ensuring that every member of its community feels, valued, respected and supported.

Read more about the new MSc Health and Climate Change.

The University of Hull has an international reputation for research focused on the environment and on human health. The University is within the world's top 100 in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings (2022) and 82% of its research is recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021).

The University has been classified as a 1st Class University (24 our of 153) in the People and Planet 2022/23 University League, which ranks UK universities against sustainability and ethics criteria – our two key themes in the University’s Strategy 2030.

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