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#19: Environmental physiotherapy education (Unconference 2020)

This episode is one in a short series on different ways of thinking about physiotherapy education, published as part of the In Beta 2020 Unconference.

Thanks to Filip Maric from the Environmental Physiotherapy Association for preparing this episode.


Environmental degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss, and the pollution of land, water and air are now widely recognised as the largest threats to human health and flourishing around the world, and significantly disrupting our ability to meet the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These global environmental changes are driving a rise in non-communicable diseases, malnutrition, trauma and injury, climate migration and displacement, mental health problems and the frequency and spread of infectious and vector-borne disease of which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is but the most recent and dramatic example.

In recognition of our current environmental crisis and its overbearing implications for human health, the need for healthcare professions to have a full understanding of it and support mitigation and adaptation has become ever more evident. As health professions and students are now increasingly mobilising around topics pertaining to planetary health and environmental sustainability, there are growing efforts to embed these topics in healthcare professional education with a view to changing practice.

This episode will take listeners through a series of topics relevant to environmental physiotherapy education and invite to a range of reflections pertinent to the integration of planetary health, environmental and sustainability perspectives into physiotherapy education. Progressing in sections, the podcast will guide listeners through reflections on:

  1. Land and heart: Linking personal experience to environmental physiotherapy education.
  2. Cold facts and warm approaches: Alternative starting points for learning.
  3. Intersections and causes: Links between environmental, social and health issues with Dr Shaun Cleaver.
  4. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in physiotherapy education with Dr Cliona O’Sullivan.
  5. From intersections to actions and beyond: Choosing meaningful avenues for education.
  6. Embodied and experiential teaching methods in environmental physiotherapy education with Dr Adriane Vieira.
  7. Environmental physiotherapy in placements and clinical education with Dr Olivia Stone.
  8. The Environmental Physiotherapy Agenda 2023.

Transcript: Click here to download a transcript of the episode.

Additional resources


How to engage with this podcast

  1. Listen to the podcast taking breaks in between sections as you wish.
  2. Record your key reflections and share these with other participants.
  3. Join a discussion with other unconference participants on the topic and the reflections that it has stimulated.

This podcast is around 66 minutes long. It includes some discussion to make you think about the possible future of physiotherapy education and reflect on your responses. We suggest that you listen to the podcast away from your desk. You might choose to listen whilst you go for a walk or a run in your local area, or you could find somewhere to sit and listen quietly away from other screens and distractions.

The podcast is divided into different sections with approximately 1-min silence in between each section. You can leave the podcast running and listen to it all in one go, or you can pause the podcast during these pauses to make brief notes on your thoughts as you go, but you don’t have to record and share your response to every question. Instead, aim to capture the key reflection that you took away from the experience.

At the end of the podcast, aim to capture your key reflections in a way that they can be shared with other participants. You can choose to do this however and wherever you wish. It could be as a video, in writing, a series of pictures and could be saved as a note on your phone, a Google doc, a blog, a series of tweets, or a video on YouTube.

Once you have created your brief reflection on the podcast, please share it by posting it, or a link to it on the relevant padlet on the Unconference Canvas page by 7.30am UTC on September 15th.

After sharing your reflection, take a look at the reflections from other participants to gain different perspectives on the topic. These will form the stimulus for the synchronous discussion on the 15th September at 8.30am (UTC). To join the conversation click the relevant link on the Canvas page at the appropriate time.


Featured image via Today.

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