Planetary Health Initiatives

The ecosystems that support human and other species health are under severe strain in the ’Anthropocene’ epoch – including global heating that has been named the existential crisis of our time.

To address this, the UN’s IPCC says that massive social change must occur by 2030. Nurses and midwives are first responders and are crucial to ensuring that health care operates with lighter environmental impact (mitigation) as well as delivering health needs in the face of extreme weather, disease shifts, pollution, nutrition changes, and displaced populations (adaptation). These ‘planetary health’ issues are the key drivers of human health and societal integrity of our era, and action is needed now.

In response to this call, Yale School of Nursing (YSN) has launched a Planetary Health Initiative. This effort focuses and leverages our science, teaching, leadership, and practice to ensure ‘better health for all people…and the planet.’ In doing so we join efforts across Yale and the globe. Our work and impact will include:


Planetary health continuing education project

With partners Healthcare Without Harm (HWH) and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (AHNE) to develop an online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course on ‘planetary health: what nurses need to know, to act.’ This will also be made available to YSN preceptors. Free Yale Nursing continuing education credits for this course will be given to participants among the target audience of 4 million practicing nurses in the US who are crucial to ensuring sustainable health care delivery.

YSN is also collaborating with the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and Healthcare without Harm on the ‘Nurses Climate Challenge’ to educate 50,000 nurses in the US: see


Yale’s USSC committee called out the importance of environmental and bioevolutionary science, climate change and health, and President Salovey has now elevated this ‘planetary solutions project (PSP)’ area as a university priority. Dean Kurth worked with the Climate Task Force, and the PSP committee to define Yale’s university-wide approach to planetary solutions opportunities. YSN faculty efforts in this space includes research on urban health, health system strengthening, global health, mHealth, mental health, and community engagement of structurally vulnerable populations, collaborating with Yale Schools of Public Health, the Environment, Medicine, Architecture, and others. Dean Kurth, Dr. Saad Omer and colleagues have proposed the formation of a PhD in Planetary Health at Yale, which would be the world’s first doctoral program in this arena.

Planetary Health Faculty Network

Associate Dean for Planetary Health & Global Affairs LaRon Nelson co-leads the Planetary Health Faculty Network of the Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH). Pilot grants will be available for faculty work in this area through YIGH’s sustainable health innovation initiative.

The YSN Candidate School for Nurses and Midwives was held online in 2021, encouraging nurses and midwives to run for office and to directly affect policy and legislation, including for climate change and health issues. 


YSN clinical efforts will adapt as Yale expands its sustainability goals, including partnership with Yale New Haven Health System. 

Literature & Readings on Planetary Health

Planetary Health and the Role of Nursing: A Call to Action

A pledge for planetary health to unite health professionals in the Anthropocene

Available to be checked out in the YSN office (when able to be back in building)