The success of the undergraduate Environmental Health Science (EHS) Program and the need for advanced training opportunities for the occupational and environmental health and safety workforce has led to the creation of the graduate program in Environmental and Occupational Health Science (EOHS) at Western Kentucky University (WKU). This graduate program has seen strong interest in the region since its inception. The success of graduates from both programs, 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 undergraduate EHS Program is currently supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Training Project Grant (TPG). A critical need for the graduate EOHS program is NIOSH TPG funding to enhance environmental and occupational safety and health training for graduate students, create a more diverse EOHS student population, and meet EOHS workforce needs in this region. The EOHS Master of Science degree program at WKU is a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program built upon education and training in basic and applied sciences. The overall educational objective is a multidisciplinary approach that provides 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 outcomes. The courses offered in both the EHS and EOHS programs are designed to educate and train students in anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace factors that may affect the health, comfort or productivity of workers and the public. These programs respond to needs identified by our advisory committee members, area industries, and EOHS consultants in the field. The NIOSH TPG funding at WKU would support specific objectives to enhance occupational safety and health, and related training through both the EHS and EOHS degree programs. These objectives are to support recruitment and training of students in EOHS, enhance the diversity of students in the program, and advance the EOHS field in this region. Specifically, the TPG will provide tuition scholarships and stipends to train six (6) graduate students, or more, each project annum. Training though the EOHS curriculum will allow students to graduate with a Master of Science degree in EOHS. A broad goal of the TPG is to attract and retain minority students. The EHS undergraduate program has seen an increase in minority student enrollments. The administrators of WKU's NIOSH TPG believe that it is important to continue to be diligent and innovative in expanding opportunities for minorities to enter the EOHS field. NIOSH TPG sponsorship of the WKU Programs will ensure opportunities and training that will promote expertise in the EOHS field for the people of Kentucky, and beyond.
The Environmental Health Science (EHS) undergraduate and Environmental and Occupational Health Science (EOHS) graduate programs prepare students with a strong foundation in applied physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and community health that lead to the development of skills that can be utilized in a variety of public health settings. EHS and EOHS program graduates have become environmental and occupational health science professionals protecting public health across Kentucky, the region, and the nation.