Planetary Health and Justice Initiative

Our vision is to implement transformative action for planetary health and justice through practice-based research and education at UW-Madison and beyond.


The Planetary Health and Justice Initiative (PHaJI) at UW-Madison seeks to interrupt patterns of injustice, and replace them with habits of being and praxis aligned with justice and care. The effort is grounded in knowledge from the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts, and includes as necessary and essential, local knowledge and traditional ways of knowing. In order to lead with a focus on ecosystems, systems science, Earth-based principles, and human dignity, it is necessary to sustain an attitude of critical self-reflection about our own discipline, to decolonize academic knowledge, and resist power dynamics that are associated with historical or current systemic oppression. Such an effort would necessarily be explicitly and assertively anti-racist, and would employ an intersectional gender lens in its work, including the lived experiences of all people. This transdisciplinary initiative builds collective power at UW-Madison and beyond by mobilizing, disseminating, and sharing transformative planetary health strategies through research and education.


Planetary health is an emerging field focused on characterizing the linkages between human-caused disruptions of Earth’s natural systems and the resulting impacts on public health. It aims to use this as a foundation for creating pathways for care and thriving for all people, all living things and the planet. Foundations of the planetary health movement are a product of Indigenous science and medicine, which has long understood that human health and planetary health are the same.  As such, our initiative’s approach to planetary health is strongly rooted in the sciences and practices of Indigenous, Black, and other Communities of Color, and seeks to create transformative action for planetary health through research and education at UW-Madison.

Leadership Team Co-Chairs

Jessica LeClair

Credentials: PhDc, MPH, RN

Position title: Clinical Instructor, School of Nursing


Maria Moreno

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Faculty Associate, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Amy Van Aartsen

Position title: Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry


Leadership Team Members

Katherine Collins

Credentials: DNP, MS, RN, AGPCNP-BC, FNP-BC

Position title: Clinical Assistant Professor & Global Health Coordinator, School of Nursing


Samuel Dennis Jr

Credentials: PhD, ASLA

Position title: Professor, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture


Linda Oakley

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Louis J. and Phyllis Clark Jacobs Professor in Mental Health, School of Nursing


Susan Paskewitz

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Chair and Professor, Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Jonathan Patz

Credentials: MD, MPH

Position title: Vilas Distinguished Professor and John P Holton Chair of Health and the Environment, Nelson Institute & School of Medicine and Public Health