|‘Water’ designated as two-year theme for UNC campus; public health school well-positioned to engage|
|January 24, 2012|
By adopting "water" as a campus-wide theme for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, the UNC Faculty Council has given the university a unique opportunity to enhance interdisciplinary research and practice at the University of North Carolina and globally around real-world issues related to water and sanitation.
"Water provides so many opportunities to improve the lot of humankind - whether in North Carolina or for the world's poor," said Jamie Bartram, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and director The Water Institute at UNC. "The campus-wide theme will help highlight its importance not only to the lives of each of us at Carolina but to understand and advance its role in improving health and wellbeing worldwide."
Bartram quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's description of water as one of the "great diplomatic and development opportunities of our time."
"The University is remarkably well prepared to take on a theme of this kind," Bartram said. "Our focus will promote a unifying dialogue across campus and throughout the world."
The resolution, adopted Dec. 9, opened the way for university leaders to plan lectures, seminars, extended visits by scholars, first-year summer book selections and performances, and other events to highlight the theme.
Among the planning partners are UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and its Water Institute at UNC, The Global Research Institute, UNC Global, UNC Institute for the Environment and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. These groups will devote the next two academic years to the theme, "H2O Carolina: Water in Our World," aiming to engage the entire Carolina community in their efforts.
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, its Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, and its Water Institute have broad and longstanding expertise in water issues.
"In our department, we are fortunate to have faculty expertise that includes the underlying science of the basis for clean water, the optimal provision of water for public consumption, and the engineering and policy interventions that ensure safe water supplies," said Michael Aitken, PhD, environmental sciences and engineering professor and chair. "The campus theme will enable our faculty and students to integrate their expertise with cultural, socioeconomic and other scientific dimensions of water that are distributed among other units on campus."
"Water and health are inextricably linked and interdependent," said Mark Sobsey, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering. "Water that is unsafe due to microbial and chemical contamination is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Yet water can be made safe with technologies, policies, programs, practices and other means to which I and others in the UNC public health school are committed. We intend to remain actively engaged to improve health and well-being."
Steven Meshnick, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the School, agrees. "Water plays a key role in the spread of many of the world's worst parasitic and infectious diseases. Parasites can be acquired by drinking or bathing in contaminated water, or through the bite of insects, such as mosquitoes, that breed in open water. Many of us are working toward the control or elimination of these parasitic diseases; improvements in water sanitation will be key in these efforts."
"The selection of water as the campus theme for the next two years is a testament to the universality of water in people's lives," Aitken said. "The connection to public health is obvious, as access to safe drinking water is a fundamental human need; unsafe water, whether from chemical or microbial contamination, is responsible for an enormous health burden in both developed and developing countries."
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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Last updated January 24, 2012|