Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Human and Planetary Health Initiative

Main content start

Current models of industrialization and consumption are eroding biodiversity, degrading the environment, and impacting the ability of ecosystems to support human communities. Climate change and other environmental challenges are creating a health crisis of planetary dimension, with impacts falling disproportionately on vulnerable and historically marginalized populations.

Comprehensively understanding the linkages between the environment and human health allows us to design policies and systems that account for the true costs of environmental degradation and conservation.

The field of human and planetary health brings together perspectives from environmental sciences, public health, systems thinking, and other disciplines to achieve breakthroughs and find solutions. Stanford's Human and Planetary Health initiative – a joint working group of the Woods Institute for the Enviropnment and Center for Innovation in  Global Health – builds on a vibrant community of engaged faculty, staff, and students. More than 70 faculty and Stanford leaders across campus are active in human and planetary health and student engagement is high in all our work.

With support from Stanford’s Center for Innovation and Global Health and the Woods Institute for the Environment, the working group reaches across the university and beyond to investigate and address these interdependencies to create and preserve a livable future. Areas of focus include:

  • Climate & health: Using climate science to protect communities against extreme weather, wildfires, and other impacts of climate change.
  • Pollution & health: Envisioning restructured industries that manage ocean, land, and air pollution, support health, and build resilient economies.
  • Ecology & infectious disease: Creating solutions that protect and restore ecosystems to reduce emergence of disease-causing pathogens.
  • Food, health & the environment: Developing food systems that support livelihoods, mitigate climate change, and promote health – on land and at sea.

Learn more at:

Interested in taking HPHP courses? See current course offerings.

Recent News

How extreme heat affects vulnerable populations

Extreme heat threatens the health of vulnerable populations such as children, laborers, and the elderly. A Stanford pediatrician, emergency medicine doctor, and professor of Earth system science discuss how we can best adapt and build resilience – particularly for those populations and communities that are most vulnerable.

Addressing the global water crisis through social entrepreneurship

Actor Matt Damon and social entrepreneur Gary White met with Stanford students to talk water and sanitation access.

Environmental changes and risk for mosquito-borne diseases

Climate change and human activity are enabling the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue fever, to new places. Stanford infectious disease experts and disease ecologists discuss what we know and how communities can protect themselves from these changing disease threats.