Center for Planetary Health and Environmental Justice

An artistic rendering of a forest from a birds-eye view, with lungs made of clouds in the trees

At the core of nursing is the understanding that when we create the right environment, nature not only can heal itself, but it is an essential partner in human health. Human health and the health of the planet are inseparable.

Our Pledge

As nurses, we solemnly pledge to work to protect the health of people, their communities, and the planet. We pledge to maintain the utmost respect for human life and the diversity of life on Earth, and for the natural systems which support all life. We pledge to advocate for equity and justice by actively addressing environmental, social, and structural determinants of health, envisioning a transition to a society that places the wellbeing of all persons, in balance with nature, at its heart. We pledge to address the climate and ecological crisis in our actions at home, in our communities, and in our profession, to protect the planet and all of its lifeforms for current and future generations.

What is Planetary Health?

Planetary health is an ancient way of knowing embraced by Indigenous Peoples around the world. It is also an emerging field of transdisciplinary science and global activism.

The School of Nursing's recognized work in the area of climate mitigation and adaptation, positions us as a thought leader in the field and provides opportunities for new areas of research, teaching, and service. Dr. Teddie Potter was appointed the School of Nursing’s first Director of Planetary Health in 2019.

In all areas and all activities, the School of Nursing will work to ensure that nursing is visible and recognized for our profession’s historical contributions and alignment with planetary health. Nursing’s systems thinking is essential if we are to create the necessary healing opportunities for individuals and the planet.

stethoscope with faceted glass orb

Planetary Health Nursing Education

Transforming nursing curriculum through application of the Planetary Health Education Framework. The vision is to prepare nurses around the world to conduct research, educate, advocate, and practice in ways that support planetary health. The Planetary Health Nursing Education model includes: the Planetary Health Concept for Nursing ©, and a Planetary Health Education Frameworand Nursing Essentials Crosswalk ©. For access to the crosswalk contact

Featured Video and Climate Action Guide for Nurses

As the largest workforce in one of the most carbon intensive industries in the world, the power of nurses is urgently needed to help mobilize emissions reduction in U.S. health care.

DNP student Kasey Bellegarde collaborated with Dr. Paul West, a Senior Scientist at Project Drawdown to develop the Climate Action Guide for Nurses, a resource that lifts up examples of evidence-based, high impact solutions for nurses to mobilize decarbonization in the health sector. 

The introductory video can be viewed at

The guide can be accessed here: Climate Action Guide for Nurses

Please spread the news of this important resource far and wide!!

Planetary Health Resources

Icebergs melting

Climate Change and Health Curriculum

An interprofessional Response Curriculum helps learners understand the connection between climate and health, and that it is essential for health professionals of all disciplines.

A lighthouse on the sea back-lit by a rising sun

Cross-Cutting Principles for Planetary Health Education

Read full descriptions for the 12 cross-cutting principles—a set of guiding principles that educators teaching planetary health at any level should strive to impart upon their students.

underside of a green leaf

The Planetary Health Education Framework

The Planetary Health Education Framework aims to guide the education of global citizens, practitioners, and professionals able and willing to address the complex Planetary Health challenges of our world today. 

Sao Paula from a hillside

São Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health

We, the global planetary health community , raise an alarm that the ongoing degradation of our planet’s natural systems is a clear and present danger to the health of al l people everywhere.



Teddie Potter

Seventy-five percent of Minnesota’s health care professionals agreed that climate change is happening, however, only 21% felt well prepared to discuss climate change, according to a recent study.

The School of Nursing announced the launch of the Center for Planetary Health and Environmental Justice to educate future planetary health leaders, promote planetary health practice and advance innovative research.

Teddie Potter Climate Crossroads

Clinical Professor Teddie Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP, who serves as the director of planetary health for the School of Nursing, was appointed to the inaugural advisory committee of Climate Crossroads, a major climate initiative from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.


"It is often thought that medicine is the curative process. It is no such thing; medicine is the surgery of functions, as surgery is that of limbs and organs. Neither can do anything but remove obstructions; neither can cure, nature alone cures. Surgery removes the bullet out of the limb, which is an obstruction to cure, but nature heals the wound. So, it is with medicine; the function of an organ becomes obstructed; medicine, so far as we know, assists nature to remove the obstruction, but does nothing more. And what nursing has to do in either case is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him."

Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing (p. 133)

Indigenous Knowledge Recognition

The Dakota People and the Ojibwe People are the original indigenous people of Minnesota. Their knowledge, traditions, and community life ways make them the planetary health experts for this place. We recognize and honor their knowledge as a necessary requirement for a sustainable and healthy future.

School of Nursing Land and Trauma Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the School of Nursing at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota is built within the traditional homelands of the Dakota People. We recognize the longstanding relationship between the land and the Dakota people- the traditional stewards of this land. We also acknowledge the violence of colonialism and ongoing racism toward Indigenous People. We are growing in our realization that the health care system, meant to protect and heal people, has supported structures of racism and colonization causing ongoing trauma and health inequities.

As part of the process to heal the land and the community, we reflect on these questions:

  • What are our obligations to the people who first inhabited this land?
  • How do we figure out what our responsibilities are to this land?
  • How can we be good guests here?
  • How can we individually and as a School, continue to work toward true equity and decolonization?
  • How can we support existing local struggles?
  • How can we work together to promote the School of Nursing’s vision to ensure optimal health and wellbeing for all people and the planet?

By living here, working here and using the resources of this place, and in this moment, we now participate in this experience.

(Adapted from Fairfield Gonzales Community Association and the University of Western Ontario.)