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Student Experiences

Perspectives on the Graduate Certificate in Healthy Cities

“The Healthy Cities Certificate curriculum gives students a sophisticated ability to understand and intervene on the myriad micro, mezzo and macro factors that contribute to both health and health disparities in urban environments.”
–Paula Lantz, Ph.D, James B. Hudak Professor of Health Policy. Course Taught: Public Policy Approaches to Social Determinants of Health

“A multidisciplinary perspective brings experts trained in different aspects of urban living [to the field of urban health]. It’s impossible to be well-versed in all of the different areas, and also unnecessary when you can bring a team to work [together] on complex issues.”
–Roshanak Mehdipanah, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education. Course Taught: Urban Health

“There's an opportunity for city planners and policy makers to learn more about how the environments they create and the policies they write contribute to public health outcomes. If we knew more about public health, we could plan our cities in ways that are much more proactive about addressing public health concerns so that jointly—public health, urban planning, public policy, and architecture/design—can start to address some of those determinants.”
–Kimberley Kinder, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning. Course Taught: Healthy Cities: Planning and Design

Why enroll in the Healthy Cities Certificate?

Collaboration and effective communication among disciplines are key in creating cities that promote public health. The Graduate Certificate in Healthy Cities provides University of Michigan graduate students the language, skills, and competencies needed to engage in cross-disciplinary work to promote human health in urban contexts.

Students in the Healthy Cities certificate program come from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines. This diversity adds richness and brings new perspectives to class discussions. Below are testimonials from current Healthy Cities students about their experiences in the program and the value that the certificate added to their learning here at Michigan.

Student Perspectives

“I'm interested in housing policy and this program has given me the perspective and tools to talk about affordable, adequate, and stable housing in a broader way. For example, being able to make arguments about housing through a public health lens, not just values-based arguments, is a really effective skill I've developed through my Healthy Cities certificate coursework.”
–Josh Childs, M.P.P./M.U.R.P. ‘20

“I would recommend this certificate program for any student interested in public policy, urban planning, engineering, medicine, or real estate development. I am confident that I will use the knowledge I gained from my completion of the Healthy Cities in my professional career as a multimodal transportation planner focusing on bikeability and walkability of cities.”
–Megan Rigney, M.U.R.P./M.P.H. ‘20

“Healthy Cities Certificate allow me to learn about health holistically. It is too often that we get specialized in our own industry and we could not get out of the silo. The course encourage cross discipline learning, in which provide me various opportunity for different mode of learning. The network of faculty for this certificate is very helpful and supportive, Professor Lantz from Policy School was particularly helpful as she knew that I did not have a Public Policy background, and also introduce me to some other resources within the Public Policy school that helps international students in writing professionally in English. I am sure if it was not the certificate I would not have these exposures.”
–Judy Chu, M.Arch ‘19

“I acquired a lot of new perspectives to think about academic research, especially interdisciplinary study,  and specific health and environmental topics through our guest speakers. By talking with them, I also learned something beyond the academic topics like how they pave their ways to their career and how they make different choices.”
–Meixin Yuan, M.U.R.P. ‘20

“The Healthy Cities Certificate gave me the opportunity to learn about the ways in which I can utilize my knowledge of the social determinants of health to impact the health of populations living in urban areas. Without this certificate I wouldn’t have such a strong knowledge base about the historical context in which I will be working and I would not have such a broad range of skills in public policy and urban planning. Because of this certificate I am confident in my ability to work in the field of economic development and advocate for affordable housing.”
–Brianne Brenneman, M.P.H. ‘19

Student Work

Because of our diverse backgrounds and interests, students in the Healthy Cities certificate produce interesting work on a wide variety of topics. Below are titles from selected papers that current Healthy Cities students have produced. As this list highlights, the certificate’s coursework is flexible enough to encourage students to write about their topical interests through the lens of urban health.

  • “Complete Streets Policy Proposal for Genesee County Michigan”
  • “Mitigating the Experience of Homelessness—Tiny Homes and Zoning Policies for a More Equitable Denver”
  • “Gentrification Disguised as Urban Revitalization”
  • “Nudging for a Healthier Community—Hosting Marathon and Community Engagement”
  • “PRO-TENT—A Design Solution for Heatwave—Civic Infrastructure Design Concept Logbook”
  • “A Policy History of Compulsory Vaccination Programs in the United States”