Western Kentucky University (WKU) is seeking NIOSH Training Program Grant (TPG) support for its baccalaureate degree curriculum in Environmental Health Science (EHS) to recruit and provide six students with training and professional opportunities, as well as enhance the diversity of students in the program. The purpose of the EHS program is to nurture the broad base of applied skills required of professionals for a career in environmental, occupational health, and safety. It will also increase the diversity of students attracted and retained in the program. The EHS program is built upon a comprehensive education in basic and applied sciences that provides students with the background and technical skills necessary for recognizing, identifying, assessing, and controlling environmental and occupational health stressors and the interrelations between environmental factors and human health. In response to its Advisory Committee recommendations, and in recognition of the national trend in the profession whereby practitioners are required to take on a more integrated practice of industrial hygiene, environmental health management, and occupational safety, the EHS program has undergone a number of revisions since inception. Adequate academic preparation of our students is the result of a carefully planned curriculum that is supplemented with extracurricular activities and project-based or service learning experiences. The current EHS curriculum consists of 120 semester hours and offers up to 70 credit hours of industrial hygiene, environmental science, safety, and related areas, including electives. To that end, the EHS faculty continues to actively create a unique and effective learning environment for students by integrating project- based or service learning into the academic program. Project-based learning essentially involves incorporating into the curriculum a steady progression of hands on experiences that allow for increasing student involvement and responsibility as they make the transition from observer to participant to practitioner. This trend is also consistent within the regional needs of industries, consultants, other private companies, and governmental or non-governmental organizations served by the WKU EHS program. For this region and beyond, employers comprised of small to medium-sized companies employing 30- 500 employees, and an individual is typically designated as the EHS Coordinator/Supervisor/Manager and is often assigned the responsibility of dealing with all day-to-day matters pertaining to industrial hygiene, safety, and environmental health management. The necessity of applying a broad base of technical skills and problem solving abilities within such a complicated regulatory framework makes the field of EHS Management one of the most complex and challenging endeavors. Our region is in great need of academic programs capable of producing qualified graduates to meet the challenges of this diverse and rapidly changing field. Curriculum implementation has provided significant contributions to WKU's offerings and will continue to be important in producing academically prepared students with the required baccalaureate degrees. WKU's experience with programs of a similar nature, the successes of the graduates with this major, and the unique combination of our course inventories, faculty qualifications, and student experiences makes the institution the appropriate place to implement the NIOSH TPG. A defined and growing need for graduates of the program suggests that the program will be successful far beyond the three year period requested for the current TPG support. Suffice it to note that support awarded through this application will enhance the continuation of this process of EHS curriculum implementation for the six students that would be selected. The opportunity to expand the core and adjunct faculty committed to the program and attract and support a diversity of qualified students, especially minority students, will greatly improve the probability of continued program success and significantly amplify the quality of students' experiences. Our EHS students continue to participate in project based learning and as well as present their results at the annual WKU REACH week and the Kentucky Public Health Association conference. In addition, students that would be awarded the NIOSH TPG will be required to attend and present posters at the annual University of Cincinnati/NIOSH PRP symposium. Finally, it is important to reiterate the fact that students who complete the requirements for the EHS degree program are fundamentally equipped with theoretical, analytical, and practical skills necessary to adequately anticipate, recognize, identify, and control environmental, occupational health and safety problems.

Public Health Relevance

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is seeking NIOSH Training Program Grant (TPG) support for its Environmental Health Science (EHS) baccalaureate degree curriculum so as to improve the broad base of applied skills, the quality and diversity of academically prepared students that would take up careers as industrial hygienists, occupational safety scientists, or environmental health managers, which is inadequate in the current regional workforce. A strong environmental, occupational health, and safety training and qualifications would be essential to the successful performance of graduates of our program. WKU's experience with programs of similar nature, the successes of our EHS graduates, and the unique/interdisciplinary combination of course offerings, faculty qualifications and commitment to experiential learning and underserved students in its region makes WKU the appropriate place for the NIOSH TPG program.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Combined Undergraduate and Graduate Training Program (T03)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZOH1)
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Maples, Elizabeth
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Western Kentucky University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Other Specialized Schools
Bowling Green
United States
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