The link between degrading environmental conditions and human health was first explored through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada grant (1996 – 1999, PI: Laura Westra) on which Dr. Soskolne was co-investigator. The dire conclusions of this research led to a World Health Organization (WHO) Workshop in December 1998, where the merits of our SSHRC interdisciplinary research were recognized. Following the Workshop, an official WHO Discussion Document was produced placing this topic prominently on the international public health agenda.
"Global Ecological Integrity and 'Sustainable Development': Cornerstones of Public Health"
A major academic spin-off from this SSHRC grant was the Masters thesis of Lee E. Sieswerda entitled Toward measuring the impact of ecological disintegrity on human health
(1996 – 1998) and resulting in an article by the same title published in Epidemiology in 2001.
Further research, growing from the findings of the papers that followed, has provided the impetus to seek new indicators of environmental degradation, new and sensitive indicators of human health and well-being, and methods for linking the two to better inform public policy. Paradigm shifts in both the application of transdisciplinarity to scientific method and in policy recommendations arising from this work will be essential for effective social action. The contribution of Dr. Soskolne et al.'s work is pioneering in this area and is reflected in his role in the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He worked to advance the specialty of eco-epidemiology, examining the dynamics between ecosystem change and public health.
His major contribution is this area is as senior editor of Sustaining Life on Earth: Environmental and Human Health through Global Governance
. This 482-page 2008 book is available directly from the publisher, Lexington Books, at the following link:
The book is an interdisciplinary collaboration with a broad array of disciplines, from law, to health, ecology, biology, economics, social sciences, theology, and ethics, all concerned with the sustainability of living systems. It is anchored in the Earth Charter as the available set of values and principles to which, if we both individually and collectively subscribed would lead us from a path with catastrophic consequences to one of sustainability. The book is designed to save us from ourselves. Click here
to download the Sustaining Life on Earth: Environmental and Human Health through Global Governance
printable flyer (in PDF format).
Since the release of this book in 2008, Dr. Soskolne developed an interdisciplinary course entitled: "Values, Ethics, and Sustainability". He taught this course based on the book for the first time in 2008 and again in 2010. Prior to his retirement in June 2013, he advised about curriculum development for sustainability-training across all disciplines throughout the University of Alberta, as well as to Colin Butler while he was with Monash University, NSW, Australia.
Colin's two most recent books as a co-editor are one book launched in June, 2011 entitled Globalisation and Ecological Integrity in Science and International Law
. The book was edited by Laura Westra, Klaus Bosselmann and Colin Soskolne and published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The second book was launched in June 2012, entitled Human Health and Ecological Integrity: Ethics, Law and Human Rights
, edited by Laura Westra, Colin Soskolne and Donald Spady, published by Earthscan (Routledge, Taylor and Francis).
Most recently, Colin was appointed Visiting Fellow (November 2012 – December 2013) in the Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT, Australia. His appointment as Visiting Fellow was upgraded to Adjunct Professor from July 1, 2013. His role has been, among other things, to assist Colin Butler with editing two books: (1) A Festschrift
to honour the career contributions of Anthony (Tony) J. McMichael to the fields of occupational and environmental epidemiology; (2) the book by Colin Butler entitled Climate Change and Global Health