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Intro to Ecosystem Health

Learn about ecosystem health! Read below for Right Track intern Kulane Said’s first blog post.

Intro to Ecosystem Health | By Kulane Said

My name is Kulane. I am a second year student studying at Metro State, aspiring to be a physician assistant/associate. I am interning this summer through Right Track, a program coordinated by the City of Saint Paul. My internship site is at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) with the Sustainability Education team. 

The health field is closely connected with environmental health and I plan to learn more about the intersectionalities for my future career, specifically about ecosystem health. I’ll be sharing about ecosystem health through a series of blog posts this summer. 

What is ecosystem health? 

Ecosystem health is the combination of human health, environmental health, and animal health. Ecosystem health looks at how all of these factors interact with each other and contribute to the overall sustainability of the environment. An example of this could be how pollinators are dependent on the environment and we as humans depend on them to pollinate our crops.

What are some of the grand challenges of ecosystem health? 

Some of the grand challenges of ecosystem health would be climate change, environmental justice, food and water insecurities, currently infectious diseases, etc. Social sciences interacting with politics, education, economics and development also contribute to a huge part of the conversation on how to improve sustainability. 

Can we fairly fight some of these grand challenges so that the overall health of everyone is improved? 

There is a history of unjust environmental factors that still affect low income communities today, such as less access to parks, lack of exercise and less access to healthy food, which leads to rising obesity rates. There are also people who have asthma with exposure to the low air quality, with obesity making their asthma worse. There are many more examples, but overall, these grand challenges need to be addressed by policy makers, environmentalists and people interested in climate justice. The more people in the conversation, the more we can have a better understanding of ways to fix these issues. 

Where can I learn more? 

You can take a class on it! Grand Challenge class GCC 3032 | Ecosystem Health: Leadership at the Intersection of Humans, Animals, and the Environment is being offered in Spring 2022. 

You could also check out the following resources:

And stay tuned for my next blog post! I will be interviewing people with a background in human healthcare, as well as a background in applying connections to environmental health.


About the author: Kulane Said is a second year student studying at Metro State, aspiring to be a physician assistant/associate. Kulane is interning this summer at IonE through Right Track, an internship matching program coordinated by the City of Saint Paul. Kulane is working with the Sustainability Education team, exploring the intersectionalities of medicine and environmental health for her future career. This summer she is writing a series of blog posts on ecosystem health and on interviews with people in different health fields.

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