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Program for the Ecology of Human Systems
at the Boston University School of Public Health

Press Release

The Program for the Ecology of Human Systems (PEHS) seeks to increase popular understanding of the implications to human and environmental health of technological choices and to influence public policy respecting those choices.

PEHS links students, public health professionals, and community members concerned about the local environment. Activities include research, classroom instruction, field-based projects, and sponsoring conferences and seminars. Our work is characterized by a multidisciplinary approach to issues of environmental pollution, public health, and socio-economic development. We believe social and environmental justice must inform and guide research and public policy.

PEHS is jointly sponsored by the Boston University School of Public Health and the ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems (RILES). RILES is an independent, nonprofit organization working in partnership with local communities to protect public health and the environment both nationally and internationally.

Programs and Activities

Field-based Research and Project Development
Real-world sustainable sanitation: What works? What doesn't? And Why?

A Multi-year environmental sanitation effort in indigenous and coastal communities in Mexico will document how ecological sanitation is possible on a scale that has measurable impacts on health, natural resources, and social change and that the project can be sustainable.

Community Service
Tools for people working to stop local pollution. Training for government officials and community leaders.

Love Canal University

With the support of Lois Gibbs and the Center for Environment, Health, and Justice, "Love Canal University" provides an accessible research and teaching archive of the Love Canal hazardous waste site, based on the local organizing effort that brought the incident to national attention.

Workshops with Public Officials

Meeting with and informing lawmakers and public officials to help them to better understand the actual, long-term impact of technologies on the local environment, and how policymaking influences technological choices.

Community Scholars

Bringing practical public health experience to the classroom and public health scholarship to the neighborhood by providing financial support to allow individuals working in public health to pursue graduate school education.


A seminar series on the implications of technological choices for ecological and human health opened in March 2003 with Dr. Joel Tarr (Richard S. Caliguiri Professor of Urban and Environmental History and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University) as the first speaker.

“Wastewater and Health: Sustainable Sanitation”: A class at the BU School of Public Health exploring obstacles and progress regarding universal sustainable sanitation; part of a larger effort to develop and disseminate educational materials and curriculum related to the program.

Interdisciplinary research: Research and writing that contributes to the discourse on technology and its relationship to public health.

Conferences and special meetings: In November 2001, PEHS co-sponsored "Sewage Sludge on Land: Public Health and Environmental Impacts" at the BUSPH. Attended by students, industry representatives, government officials, and activists. The proceedings were published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, Vol. 12 (4) 2002, edited by Dr. Richard Clapp and Laura Orlando.

Contact Information

Director, Dr. Richard Clapp,, 617-638-4731
Associate Director, Laura Orlando,, 617-524-7258

Boston University School of Public Health, Dept. of Environmental Health, 715 Albany Street, T2E, Boston, MA 02118

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Last updated: 10-July-2003
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© 2003 The ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems