HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, January 5, 2014

AALS Program: Sustainability and Health

This year's program of the section on Law, Medicine, and Health Care was devoted to the intersections between public health, health care, and sustainability.  The program ranged widely, from factory farming to tensions between environmental justice and climate change activists.  Given the program's scope, it is not surprising that it was sometimes disjointed.  Nonetheless, it was an admirable effort to bring public health, environmental, and individual health issues together.  Kudos--and thanks--to Ani Satz for organizing. 

Most importantly, for those of us who teach health law, the program was a critical reminder that the environment and health are inextricably related.  Diabetes and obesity are health and health care problems, but they are also problems of the built environment and of food insecurity. Antimicrobial resistance is a health care problem, but it is in part causally related to the massive use of antimicrobials in animal feed.  Asthma is a health care problem but exacerbated by poor air quality.  And so on.

And so obvious.  Less obvious is what those of us who teach health law ought to do about it.  Co-teaching with colleagues in environmental or agricultural or animal law?  Developing clinics that address environmental and health hazards together? Seeking to develop placements for our students in public health settings?  Insisting that the food in Food and Drug Administration really ought to take center stage?

Presentations at the session will eventually make their way into print at the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.


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