UC Merced’s commitment to sustainability has been at the forefront of university decisions since the campus’s inception. This week, the university will welcome one of the nation’s leaders in public health to campus to discuss how to continue to keep sustainability as a top priority.
Dr. Richard Jackson, professor emeritus at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, has extensive background in sustainability’s impact on communities through his role as director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.
Dr. Jackson’s visit to UC Merced will feature opportunities with students, staff and faculty to discuss how his experience has helped him draw a connection between a person’s health and the sustainability practices around them.
“Things that work well for sustainability, if you do it right, will also work well for health,” Dr. Jackson said.
Dr. Jackson, a pediatrician, will discuss university sustainability with campus leadership on Tuesday, Dec. 4, before presenting at the Merced County Department of Public Health from 3:30 to 5 p.m. On Dec. 5, Dr. Jackson will meet with UC Merced public health, natural sciences and engineering faculty members and students before giving a keynote speech at the university’s library from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Dr. Jackson says his message is simple — sustainability needs to become a key cog in the decision-making process for future generations.
“ We have to think about systemic fixes at this point,” Dr. Jackson said. “Building good environments that are energy smart, that are pollution preventing, are net zero, encouraging physical activity and social integration will make it easier for us to be healthier instead of harder.”
During his nine-year tenure with the CDC, Dr. Jackson received the Presidential Distinguished Service award. In October 2011, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Jackson also served in many leadership positions with the California Health Department, including the highest role as the State Health Officer. He has co-authored the books “Urban Sprawl,” and “Public Health, Making Healthy Places,” and” Designing Healthy Communities,” —for which he hosted a four-hour PBS series.
Dr. Jackson takes prides in having helped make UCLA more sustainable through programs that encourage activities like biking around campus and a focus on mental health awareness for students. He said one of his main goals is to encourage students to come together as leaders with a common goal of making their university a more sustainable and healthier place.
“I’d like to see more bridges,” Dr. Jackson said. “I’d like to see more bright young students who become leaders of public health.”