Developing the Global programme for environmental health and risk analysis

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Developing the Global programme for environmental health and risk analysis (GEHRA) is a project for developing a multi-university course, and later a Master of Science programme, for environmental health and risk analysis. In this first phase, the project focuses on developing the network of participating universities and research institutes, and setting up the foundation course materials.


Environmental and environmental health challenges in the near future are large, complex, and difficult to tackle. There are good education programmes to educate experts available at the Master of Science or postgraduate level to deal with these issues. However, more networking and international collaboration is needed in this area, since the nature of the issues requires excellent networking skills and contacts with experts, and because networking will produce the course material and the actual courses more efficiently and to a higher quality.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • Develop a core course on environmental health and risk analysis.
  • Teach the core course to students in at least 3-4 universities during the fall semester 2009.
  • Develop at least 2-3 other courses closely related to the core course.
  • Develop a network of universities that actively participate in GEHRA and which accept the GEHRA courses as parts of their curricula.
  • Develop a website of course materials for anyone to use freely.
  • Collect related course materials on the website.
  • Make plans and take actions to expand GEHRA into a full Master of Science course for environmental health and risk assessment.

Project and tasks

In brief, the work in this project divides into three parts: networking, collecting course materials, and developing common courses.

The networking will start by contacting major educators in environmental health risk analysis and inviting them to participate in this process. The network will have two levels of participation: 1. universities that will adopt the GEHRA courses into their own curricula and accept other GEHRA courses from other universities; and 2. universities or other institutes that participate in the courses, assist in developing the course materials, and utilise these materials for their own needs. The universities and institutes potentially becoming members of in the network include, but are not limited to, the following:

The collection of course materials is based on a free website where the materials are collected. The website exists already ( and it is used to perform environmental health risk assessments and develop and collect methods for the assessment work. The course materials for the first course of this field, on open assessment, also already exist. We will collect information on: the universities and institutes currently providing relevant education, on courses held, and on existing course materials. The collection of the materials is based on the mutual agreement that it will be made freely available for anyone to use. Such websites alread exist e.g. the Supercourse on Epidemiology, the Internet, and Global Health, and collaboration will be developed with these sites to gain synergism. The focus on the collection work is to utilise the existing materials from the participating universities.

The development of common courses is a collaborative effort between the participating universities, but other interested parties are also welcome. The major tasks are to compare the existing courses and materials, with the objective to make them more coherent, comprehensive, and of higher quality. This work will mainly be done using the website (which is specifically designed for collaborative work), but also one or two meetings of several days are anticipated for the representatives of the participating universities. The meetings are for brainstorming, strategic planning, and evaluation of the work done so far.

The main product of the project is the core course in environmental health and risk analysis. It will contain the essence of risk analysis and its main methods. The course will be roughly 4 ECTS-credits (each 25-30 hours of study). The project will develop the course material and distribute it to the participating universities. The course will be held for the first time during the fall semester 2009 in at least 3-4 of the participating universities and will be a part of the syllabus of MSc students in these universities. Most of the teaching is performed by the local academic staff, although a few keynote speakers will be invited to teach at each location, where they will present their keynote speeches. The speech will be webcasted to all other institutes, with the possibility of audience feedback.

Other courses will be developed as well, based on the existing courses. The new courses will be agreed upon and utilised by all participating universities. During this funding period, we anticipate to develop 2-3 other courses.

We will also develop and extend existing opportunities for student exchange. The aim is that when the course programme has established, each student would have an opportunity to visit another participating university. The visit can be an intensive course, a visit related to a research project, or a workshop.

Management and budget

The project will run until the end of 2009.

The project is led by Senior lecturer John S. Evans (Harvard School of Public Health). Other project members are prof Philip Demokritou (CII), adjunct prof Jouni Tuomisto (the Department of Environmental Health in KTL [National Public Health Institute], Finland), prof Kirsi Vähäkangas from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (University of Kuopio) prof Jukka Juutilainen (Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kuopio), prof Roger Cooke (the Department of Mathematics, Delft University of Technology), prof Bert Brunekreef (IRAS, Utrecht University), and prof Rainer Friedrich (IER, Universität Stuttgart). The practical management will be performed by M.Sc Marko Tainio (the Department of Environmental Health, KTL).

The budget consists of the salary of the practical manager and travel costs.

Cost item Sum (€)
Salary (4500 € per month including social security for 12 months) 54000
Travel cost (12 persons à 1700 €) 20400
Total 74400

See also

See the first draft plan for a full Master of Science Programme for Environmental Health and Risk Analysis.