Post-seminar Interview: Factoring Climate Change and Multiple Risks into Land Management

David Hewitt, PhD, recently came to the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) at GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health to give a seminar.  Hewitt is an independent technical and policy consultant for land management and public health issues, as well as being a research associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.  His talk, “Urban Land Management in the U.S. — What Lessons can be Applied to Global Health?” drew from his experiences working with Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation department, where he helped the city develop a new kind of land management.

The department brings in one or two experts each month to discuss their research, and these popular seminars are one of the ways our students learn about current EOH topics. 

Hewitt explained why urban land management yields numerous avenues of impact on environmental quality and human health and well-being.  In North America, there is extensive work being done in policy and practice, as well as academic research, on these impacts, he told the seminar’s attendees.  He also discussed critical lessons that can be derived from applied “on the ground” work that can be applied to global health issues.

After the seminar, Lucy Brainerd, a student in the EOH Environmental Health Science and Policy MPH program, spoke with Hewitt.  Brainerd’s current and previous research experiences focused on climate change, and she is working with Professor Sabrina McCormick to publish her culminating experience project, “Attributing Human Health Outcomes to Climate Change: A Systematic Review.” 

Brainerd asked Hewitt how he thinks land management issues are changing due to climate change and how he goes about choosing which issues to address when many are at play. “If you’re dealing with things that have an immediate effect, such as combined sewer overflows, it is going to have a long-term impact, but it is also going to immediately reduce flooding in the city,” Hewitt told Brainerd.  View the interview, which includes Hewitt’s observations on the risks posed by dog walking, here

View Hewitt’s seminar here

View Hewitt’s responses to other questions here