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Open Education Consortium: The Biology of Water and Health – Fundamentals

Learn from Tufts University about the provision of safe water, sanitation and sustainability to improve global public health.
4 weeks
3–6 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

Skip About this course

The Biology of Water and Health from Tufts University is a water sustainability course (PH241x) that examines increasingly critical water-related issues through a distinctly global and interdisciplinary lens.

This course focuses on Fundamentals of water and its relationship to human health. You will explore the multi-faceted ways in which water and human health are interrelated, including the influence of waterborne pathogens on public health and the central role of water quantity and quality in preserving health through adequate sanitation and hygiene. You will be introduced to a brief history of U.S. water distribution, waterborne disease cases, epidemiological approaches to public health engineering, and historical evidence of lead (Pb) as a water contaminant.

We hope that the unique interdisciplinary approach of this course gives the general public, as well as health professionals in a variety of fields, a provocative introduction to the public health and human engineering components involved in the provision of safe water and sanitation.

Sign up for The Biology of Water and Health – Sustainable Interventions (PH242x) to further expand your knowledge and professional network related to water sustainability. Starts on September 29, 2015.

Tufts University is proud to offer the two Biology of Water and Health courses (PH241x & PH242x) in partnership with the Open Education Consortium (OECx). All course content is openly licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. After the course ends, materials will be available through edX as well as on the Tufts University Open Courseware website (

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills: Sanitation, Human Factors Engineering, Water Distribution, Biology

What you'll learn

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  • Central role of water quality and quantity in health and the effect of a safe water supply on population health
  • Why and how different types of waterborne diseases occur, how to treat them, and social justice and policy issues concerning preventing such diseases through provision of safe water sanitation
  • Primacy of prevention from a public health perspective and how public health engineering contributes to creating and maintaining a safe water supply
  • Lead (Pb) as a selected chemical contaminant in water, how it still poses a threat to human health today, and political and economic challenges with systemic efforts of eliminating it from water

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