Housing, urban, and community design are important factors in the social determinants of health. At the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University, architecture, design, and urban planning students are regularly engaged in a broad range of projects relevant to global health and sustainable development, such as designing sanitation or energy generating facilities for resource-poor settings, evaluating social media in urban networks, and developing “green” communities. The Health topic portal at the GSD website also showcases additional ways that design and health are related.
The Healthy Places Design Lab addresses two questions: “How is health related to place?” and “How can we make places healthier?” The Lab fosters collaboration between faculty and students to answer these questions, both within and beyond the GSD. Recent projects include an examination of urbanization in China and projections on aging within the United States.
The Risk and Resilience concentration (within the Master in Design Studies program) focuses on populations that are at risk due to causes such as climate change or conflict. It applies the tools of design to provide cities with strategies for coping with risks that threaten the space in which people live. Students in this concentration learn about preventive measures possible in urban design, while also examining the relevant social, political, and economic factors involved.