Posted on May 1, 2013 · Posted in Roosevelt House General News, Tisch Legacy Project News

Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College invites you to tune in to “Designing Healthy Communities,” the new series by Dr. Richard Jackson.  Dr. Jackson is the Fall 2013 Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health and Professor and Chair of the Department of the Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health.  “Designing Healthy Communities” is a provocative and insightful 4-hour public television series on the relationships between public health and urban design and planning.  Series host Richard Jackson, MD, MPH, looks at the impact our built environment has on key public health indices – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer and depression – and connects bad community design with burgeoning health costs, then analyzes and illustrates what citizens are doing about this urgent crisis by looking upstream for innovative solutions.

Broadcast Dates by Station and Date


Saturday May 4 at 1:00 PM
Saturday May 11 at 1:00 PM
Saturday May 18 at 1:00 and 2:00 PM
Saturday May 25 at 1:00 with the 2 hour Town Hall


Sunday May 5 at 9:00 PM
Sunday May 12 at 9:00 PM
Sunday May 19 at 9:00 and 10:00 PM
Sunday May 26 at 9:00 with the 2 hour Town Hall


Sunday May 5 at 5:00 PM
Sunday May 12 at 5:00 PM
Sunday May 19 at 5:00 and 6:00 PM
Sunday May 26 at 5:00 PM with the 2 hour Town Hall

About the Series:

Richard Jackson, MD MPH, is host and narrator of the series, and co-author with Stacy Sinclair of the companion book of the same name, published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley, co- published by the American Public Health Association. For the first time on national television, the rapidly deteriorating public health of our citizens is linked to nearly half a century of bad design decisions, now frozen in concrete. Each hour looks at the different impacts our built environment has on our key public health indices-obesity, diabetes, heart, asthma, cancer and depression. These relationships were never observed or talked about until Dr. Richard Jackson, a pediatrician-turned-public–health officer, began to demonstrate, more than a decade ago, that we are what we build.

Dr. Jackson first connects the dots of bad community design with burgeoning health costs, then analyzes and illustrates what ordinary citizens, including many young people, are trying to do about this urgent crisis, now on the front pages of many newspapers, by looking upstream for innovative solutions. Designing Healthy Communities looks at many places where we live, work, study and play and suggests they look the way they do because we have not assessed in advance the public health consequences of policy decisions. Dr. Jackson’s conclusion: For the first time in our nation’s history, we are subtracting years of life from our children because of the chronic diseases of obesity, asthma, and diabetes.

Dr. Jackson presents best practice design alternatives that can sharpen policy makers thinking in how they look at their communities today. Designing Healthy Communities identifies several common characteristics of unhealthy communities that can be changed, including: reliance on fossil fuel to navigate; limited walking space if no sidewalks at all; lack of access to green parks, trails, and gardens; production of pollution and particulate matter; expanding environmental injustice for millions of residents who cannot afford to move; increase of life-threatening interconnected chronic diseases like asthma, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, particularly among our youngest members of society; lack of socialization; place making and adopting a sense of community. Essential elements of our wellbeing are out of balance. While public health expenditures skyrocket, our physical, psychological, and spiritual health deteriorates, and we as a nation wonder why healthcare reform is so essential. Designing Healthy Communities shows us a way out in four one-hour programs, each addressing different subjects: Retrofitting Suburbia, Rebuilding Places of the Heart, Social Policy in Concrete, and Searching for Shangri-­La. (Episode descriptions and locations are available on request.) Funding was provided for the project by the following foundations: Kresge, Cal Endowment, AIA, W.K.Kellogg, Marisla, Kaiser Permanente, the Gifford and other Syracuse foundations, and Robert Wood Johnson.  For more information, visit the program web page, here:

About Dr. Jackson

Dr. Richard Jackson

Richard J. Jackson has done extensive work in the impact of the environment on health, particularly relating to children. Dr. Jackson chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. He did extensive work on pesticides in California, and has also focused on epidemiology, infectious diseases and toxicology. Over the past decade much of his work has focused on how the ‘built environment’ including how architecture and urban planning affect health. He recently served on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects and has written and spoken extensively in the above areas. Currently, Dr. Jackson has been working on policy analyses of environmental impacts on health ranging from toxicology, chemical body burdens, terrorism, sustainability, climate change, urban design and architecture. In addition, he is developing policy analyses in related areas, such as how farm, education, housing, and transportation policies affect health.

While in California he helped establish the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program and state and national laws to reduce risks from pesticides, especially to farm workers and to children. While at CDC he established the national asthma epidemiology and control program, oversaw the childhood lead poisoning prevention program, and instituted the federal effort to “biomonitor” chemical levels in the US population. In the late 1990s he was the CDC leader in establishing the US National Pharmaceutical Stockpile to prepare for terrorism and other disasters—which was activated on September 11, 2001. He has received the Breast Cancer Fund’s Hero Award, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Public Health Law Association, and the New Partners for Smart Growth. Dick Jackson lectures and speaks on many issues, particularly those related to built environment and health. He co-authored two Island Press Books: Urban Sprawl and Public Health in 2004 and Making Healthy Places published in August, 2011. He has served on many environmental and health boards, as well as the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects. He was the 2005 UCLA SPH commencement speaker