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The industrial hygiene curriculum at Western Kentucky University. July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2005.

NIOSH 2005 Sep; :1-15
The Industrial Hygiene program at Western Kentucky University was begun in 1991 as a component of a multi-disciplinary program in Environmental Science. The original program was administratively housed in the Department of Engineering Technology in the College of Science, Technology, and Health. This four-year bachelor of science degree in Environmental Science/Industrial Hygiene became one of the first in the country to achieve accreditation in Industrial Hygiene at the baccalaureate level by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). In response to the national trend in professional industrial hygiene in which practitioners are being required to take on a more integrated practice of industrial hygiene, industrial environmental management, and occupational safety, the program was substantially modified in 2001 to include significant curricular content in the safety area. This revision was also in line with feedback from alumni, advisory board members, potential employers, and other constituent groups which consistently indicated that in order to produce a more marketable graduate, the program must incorporate a broader base of skills in each of the areas of environmental, health, and safety. The revised Environmental, Health, and Safety program became a stand-alone unit within the Department of Public Health in the College of Health and Human Services and consisted of 129 semester hours (including general education) and generally requires four years to complete. The curriculum retained 23 credit hours in industrial hygiene and related areas such as epidemiology, toxicology, and biostatistics. Additionally, it contained a total of 24 credit hours in occupational safety including courses in safety management and fire science. Nine semester hours in environmental topics (air pollution, water treatment, and hazardous/solid waste management) rounded out the professional component. The program maintained a strong commitment to project-based or experiential learning. Project-based learning essentially involves extending educational opportunities for students beyond routine classroom and laboratory exercises and into problem solving experiences in real world industrial settings. Opportunities for these extracurricular projects occurred both within the context of courses as well as on an ad hoc basis throughout a students matriculation through the program. Through these activities, students experienced first-hand the many ways in which EHS is an art as well as a science, as they interacted with both workers and management in ways that greatly enhance the learning experience. Another opportunity for student experience was the required six credit hour internship. Going hand in hand with the applied emphasis, the intern experience provided students with the chance to apply basic skills in the real world under the oversight of a practicing environmental, health, and safety professional. The program was revised again in 2004 to become an Environmental Health Science degree. While expectations for this program remain high, the content has shifted to include a greater environmental health science focus and yet include both industrial hygiene and safety. Currently, the program offers 20 credit hours in Industrial Hygiene and related areas, 20 credit hours in Environmental Science and related areas, and about 9 hours of credit in Safety, which includes electives. Also, the continuance of the internship program has been critical for students to gain over 400 required hours of work experience, usually safety and IH training in an industrial setting. However, the shift from an IH based curriculum, coupled with the loss of a key faculty member, Rodney Handy, Ph.D., CIH, to another institution and the transfer of the Program Director, Dr. Dennis George, Ph.D., CIH, to an administrative position within WKU, has led to the decision not to apply for NIOSH Training Project Grant funding under competitive renewal.
Education; Training; Industrial-hygiene; Industrial-hygiene-programs; Industrial-health-programs; Occupational-health-programs
Department of Public Health, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101
Publication Date
Document Type
Final Grant Report
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Fiscal Year
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Department of Public Health, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101