The Environmental Health Science (EHS) degree program at Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a comprehensive program built upon education and training in basic and applied sciences. The overall educational objective is to provide students the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of the chemical, biological, physical and social factors or stressors in the occupational and natural environments that impact public health. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the core EHS faculty collaborate on research within the program and with other academic disciplines, departments and programs both within the institution and externally. A core component of the program is engagement of faculty and students in research and/or practice experiences with an environmental and occupational health science focus. The courses offered are designed to meet the general requirements for evaluating workplace and environmental hazards by anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling stressors or factors that may affect the health, comfort or productivity of workers and the general public. This program responds to needs identified by our advisory committee members, area industries, consultants, and administrators, and is consistent with the existing inventory of classroom courses and laboratory courses offered at WKU. The success of graduates employed as occupational safety and health specialists, environmental health and safety specialists, industrial hygienists, and in closely related fields has established the credibility of the institution to offer this curriculum. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Training Project Grant (TPG) at WKU has specific objectives to enhance occupational safety and health, and related training through the EHS degree program. Primary long-term objectives are to support recruitment of students, provide training and professional development opportunities, advance the environmental and occupational health science field in Kentucky and beyond, and enhance the diversity of students in the program. Specifically, the program will provide stipends in the form of tuition scholarships to train six (6) students, or more, each project annum for the 5 year project period. Training though the EHS curriculum will allow students in the TPG to graduate with an environmental and occupational health degree. A broad goal of the TPG is to attract and retain minority students. The EHS program has seen an increase in minority student enrollments, both African American and Hispanic students; however, the relative percentage of minority students in the program is low. The administrators of WKU?s TPG believe that it is important to continue to be diligent and innovative in expanding opportunities for minorities to enter the EHS field. NIOSH TPG sponsorship of the WKU EHS Program will ensure opportunities and training that will promote expertise in the EHS field for the people of Kentucky and this region, so they may be adequately represented in local, state, and national jobs.
The Environmental Health Science (EHS) program prepares students with a strong foundation in applied physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics that lead to the development of skills that can be utilized in a variety of public health settings. EHS program graduates have become environmental and occupational health science professionals protecting public health across Kentucky, the region, and the nation.