Welcome, we are excited to present the first issue of the Public Health Institute Journal (PHIJ) showcasing the dissertations produced by our students on the BSc Environmental Health and BSc Public Health programmes. COVID-19 has dominated the horizon this year and our students have shown great resilience in adapting to new ways of learning and the demands of collecting their empirical data wholly online in line with university policy. Despite these challenges, the work published here is an extremely high standard, broad in its scope, thought provoking and innovative. Not surprisingly, a number of students chose to focus on the pandemic and there are timely studies on the impact of COVID-19 on international students; on people with food allergies; on diet more generally (where it appears some of us made improvements, eating more home cooked meals and fewer processed foods than before!); on the joys and pitfalls of dog ownership during lockdown; and the difficulty of using PPE in the workplace. There are also ‘big picture’ dissertations on how pandemics exaggerate health inequalities, polarise communities and stigmatise groups, not only in the UK, but around the world and throughout history. Even during a global pandemic, other problems don’t go away and this is reflected in students’ other choices, including health and safety, pollution, cannabis use, loneliness, social media, alcohol, disabilities, cosmetic procedures, food labelling, food borne illnesses, food poverty, and poor housing. Browsing these abstracts provides a rich overview of the contemporary public and environmental health issues deemed important by our students and it reassures us that they have their eyes wide open and are informed about the challenges ahead. Public and Environmental health has never been more of a priority and as they go on to further study and employment, we are enthused by their passion, intelligence and commitment to these issues. We are confident that these important disciplines are in safe hands and we want to congratulate the students on their excellent work and wish them the very best for the future.
Finally, a note on the cover image for this issue: when it came to finding something apt, we found it a challenge to sum up the last year in public health. But in the end we chose an image which will probably be familiar to all of our students after living and working in Liverpool. Antony Gormley’s iron men on Crosby beach stand at perfect social distance as an apt metaphor for our experiences over the last year (local people have even put facemasks on them). They have been weathered by change, but are still standing, looking out to the horizon and ready to face whatever challenge comes next. We have every confidence that our students are ready to do the same.
Copyright (c) 2021 Jen Germain, Jane Harris, Conan Leavey, Lorna Porcellato
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