Designing and Planning for Healthy Cities – A Conversation With Richard Jackson, Tim Beatley and Georges Benjamin

Aired originally on 10/30/2014

Special thanks go to the sponsor for this webinar and many other SSF webinars,  Island Press.

Designing and Planning for Healthy Cities – A Conversation With Richard Jackson, Tim Beatley and Georges Benjamin Slides

The environment that we construct affects both humans and our natural world in myriad ways. There is a pressing need to create healthy places and to reduce the health threats inherent in places already built. However, there has been little awareness of the adverse effects of what we have constructed-or the positive benefits of well designed built environments.

A conversation was held between three thought leaders in public health and urban planning and design — UCLA Professor Richard Jackson, co-author of Urban Sprawl and Public Health and co-editor of Making Healthy Places; and Tim Beatley of the University of Virginia and author of Biophilic Cities and Blue Urbanism plus several other books on urban and environmental planning.

Urban greening efforts often focus on everything except nature, emphasizing public transit, renewable energy production, and energy efficient building systems. While these are important aspects of urban living, they are not enough, said Beatley. “We must remember that human beings have an innate need to connect with the natural world (the biophilia hypothesis)”. Any vision of a sustainable urban future must place its focus squarely on nature, on the presence, conservation, and celebration of the actual green features and natural life forms.”

Beatley and Jackson discussed creating cities that that are compelling and healthy places to live, work, and play.


Georges Benjamin is known as one of the nation’s most influential physician leaders because he speaks passionately and eloquently about the health issues having the most impact on our nation today. From his firsthand experience as a physician, he knows what happens when preventive care is not available and when the healthy choice is not the easy choice. As executive director of APHA since 2002, he is leading the Association’s push to make America the healthiest nation in one generation.

Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, is Professor and Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also a faculty member in the departments of Pediatrics, Urban Planning, and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. A pediatrician and public health leader, he has served as State Health Officer for California and in many other leadership positions in both the environmental health and infectious disease fields. For nine years he was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta, for which he received the Presidential Distinguished Service award

Timothy Beatley is Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. His primary teaching and research interests are on coastal and natural hazards planning, environmental values and ethics, biodiversity conservation and creative strategies by which cities and towns can reduce their ecological footprints, while at the same time becoming more livable and equitable places.