College of Public Health

College publishes on Project EARTH

Mike Stoots, Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator for the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health’s Department of Community and Behavioral Health and Director of Operations at Project EARTH, is lead author of an article in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. The article, Project EARTH: Lessons from 10 Years of Teaching Public Health Skills for Resource-Limited Settings, discusses the evolution of Project EARTH (Employing Available Resources to Transform Health) over the last decade.

Dara Young, Academic Coordinator for the College’s Department of Health Sciences, and Randy Wykoff, Dean are co-authors.

The College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University started a unique program in 2011 to teach the skills needed to protect and promote health and well-being in resource-limited settings. The need to provide public health services in resource-limited settings exists in both wilderness and isolated settings and when a disaster disrupts basic societal infrastructure. In these settings, lives may depend on the ability to provide water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, first aid, and other basic services.

Over the last decade, the college expanded the program considerably into what is now known as Project EARTH that now includes several different academic courses as well as programs designed to develop innovative solutions to address the needs of people in resource-limited settings. Working in a resource-limited setting requires effectively utilizing locally available resources to improve and protect people’s health and well-being.

Project EARTH focuses on teaching students to design and create specific products for these situations while progressively honing those cross-cutting skills necessary to work effectively in these settings—notably teamwork, creativity, and resilience. To this end, Project EARTH implements a sequential learning process that includes significant hands-on training and simulated experiences with debriefing opportunities at the end of each activity. Project EARTH may serve as a useful model for others considering a similar training program.