Start Year: 2020

HIA Training for Professionals: How a university-based center can help to build awareness and capacity

When a group of faculty and research staff from various subfields of planning at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey got together in 2012 around their common interest in fostering healthy communities, they realized there were gaps in connections and information-sharing between planners, public health professionals and policy-makers to understand health outcomes in non-health policy and project decisions. From initial discussions and research, the Planning Healthy Communities Initiative (PHCI) was born. PHCI
is a multidisciplinary team at the Rutgers Bloustein School with expertise in active transportation and infrastructure, green buildings, environmental analysis, advancing health equity, and supporting community-based efforts. One of the pillars of the PHCI is capacity building. Quick research revealed that by 2012, only one Health Impact Assessment (HIA) had been performed in New Jersey and that no other institution in the state was conducting or actively promoting HIA. Therefore organizations and governments had little awareness of them or capacity to perform them. PHCI stepped in to fill this gap in a number of ways, but perhaps the most in-depth and most direct was the creation of a new one-day HIA training course that would be the first ever in New Jersey.