The environments in which we live, work, study, and play have a great impact on our health. Environmental health science embraces all the physical, social and built infrastructure that affects health. Today, the Swetland Center continues Mary Ann Swetland's legacy by building partnerships to find and scale solutions to redress the environment's disparate impact on low-resource populations in Cleveland and beyond.
The mission of the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health is to study the complex interplay between the environment and health. The center places special emphasis on investigating the environmental determinants of health inequities to translate these findings into policies and practices that promote community and population health.
The strategic vision of the Swetland Center is to innovate and apply community systems science for environmental health equity by:
- Advancing translational environmental health research
- Integrating environmental health and community systems science into medical and graduate education
- Engaging the community in environmental health research and action
The Swetland Center has a three-pronged approach that will be achieved through three cores within the center related to research, training, and education, and community engagement. Our goal is to build capacity for the next generation of scientists to work alongside our community partners to promote healthy places for people to thrive.
1. Community Engagement for Environmental Justice
Our approach emphasizes community engagement to achieve the goal of environmental justice. Efforts are made to bring the right people to the table. We focus on building trusting relationships to ignite change. With an eye on translation, our goal is to collaborate to ensure scientific evidence reaches the right audiences at the right time.
2. Innovative Research and Training Methods
These center around three primary areas that will become cornerstones for future training:
- Ecological methods that allow for a deeper understanding of the interconnections between the environment and health.
- Systems methods that show complexity, interdependencies, nonlinear relationships, and time delays so often true for environmental exposures.
- Computational methods that promote efficiency to inform decision tools for use by key stakeholders in public policy, government, and community organizations.
3. Solution-Oriented Research
The third part of our framework is related to our overall strategy. Our research is focused on intervention development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination to inform policies and practices. The time is ripe in Cleveland for us to move beyond describing environmental health problems. Our focus will be on finding and scaling solutions to promote environmental health equity.