Search Close Search
Search Close Search
Page Menu

Climate change drives curriculum change

From the growing range of once-only tropical diseases to the impact of extreme heat and violent storms, the toll on human health wrought by climate change is being integrated into the UMass Chan Medical School curriculum.

“We are experiencing the adverse health effects of climate change expanding and impacting all physiological systems,” said Manas Das, MD, MS, associate dean of undergraduate medical education at UMass Chan. “We are threading content related to the effects of climate change in health and disease across all four years of our curriculum.”

Dr. Das has organized a task force of faculty and students who are developing climate-change curriculum content and facilitating its implementation as an evolving element of the medical school’s Vista Curriculum,. The detailed goals of this initiative are posted here:

“We are reaching out to leaders of specific courses and clerkships, providing resources, inquiring about current coverage, and working with them to integrate this content further,” Das said. “As a sub-domain of the societal forces in health and disease focus topic in Vista, this will be required curriculum, through all four years.”

Medical students have helped drive the climate agenda on campus, Das noted. Since 2021, a volunteer group of students has participated in the Planetary Health Report Card initiative, which was launched in 2019 by students at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

The report card was conceived as an advocacy tool to prompt medical schools and affiliated health professional schools to educate the next generation of clinicians on the public health impacts of climate change so they are better able to educate and care for their patients.

“The faculty has been very receptive, and Dr. Das is the best. He cares so much about this curriculum and is very open to student feedback,” said Amos Armony, a second year medical student, a member of the curriculum task force and a leader on the report card effort. “It’s not just me. There are a lot of students here working very hard on this issue. I think our generation is more focused on climate change because it will affect all of us and our patients, so the push has to come from the people whose future we are fighting for.”

Armony and colleagues are working on the 2024 report card for UMass Chan, which will be released on Earth Day.