USF College of Public Health to engage in Design & Health Research Consortium

Faculty from USF’s COPH and Florida Center for Community Design and Research will focus on Tampa Bay area projects integrating public health and community design

TAMPA, Fla. (March 13, 2018) – Researchers from University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) and the Florida Center for Community Design and Research (FCCDR), part of USF’s School of Architecture and Community Design, were selected as new members of a national consortium that advances university-led research in design and health.

The Design & Health Research Consortium was established by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). Teams from more than 20 prestigious schools, including Texas A&M, Harvard University and the University of Washington, work to understand — and improve — the way the built environment impacts public health.

At Tampa’s Riverwalk, USF researchers selected to join the national Design & Health Research Consortium are, from left, Taryn E. Sabia, Elizabeth Dunn, Joe Bohn and Marie Bourgeois. | Photo by Shelby Bourgeois

The USF team will examine Tampa Bay’s “urban resiliency” and look at ways improved built environment design initiatives can bolster community health factors, including reducing risks to natural disasters and man-made hazards.  They will take into account things like the economic and structural impacts of sea level rise, but most importantly how the population is affected.

The four USF faculty members involved in the consortium are:

“Integrating public health within community design is an important aspect of planning with the population in mind,” Dunn said. “It means putting the needs of people and their communities at the forefront, and that will lead to healthier living conditions and well-being.”

In pursuit of that aim, USF COPH, FCCDR and the rest of the consortium will collaborate to generate new evidence-based research and disseminate the results to local and state policymakers as well as the public.

“This new partnership has been in the making for years,” Dr. Bohn said. “As neighborhoods are revitalized and prioritization of resources becomes essential, decisions must be made that can impact each community’s direction for decades to come. These decisions often have economic impacts as well as population health implications. Issues such as these are key factors in the importance of this new partnership for the Tampa Bay region.”

Those interested in learning more about how environmental design affects health are invited to attend Design + Health 2018, 1 to 3 p.m., Thursday, April 5, in the USF Marshall Student Center, Room. 2708. The event, free and open to the public, will be hosted by the USF College of Public Health, USF School of Architecture, FCCDR, the Disaster and Humanitarian Relief Student Collaborative, and the United Nations Association Tampa Bay in celebration of World Health Day 2018 and National Public Health Week.

-Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health