A Health Promoting Campus: What is your role?


Session Topic

How Student Affairs and higher education leaders in all sectors of campus can use the Okanagan Charter as a powerful call to action to embed human and ecological considerations for health and wellbeing in our campus plans and policies, to create environments which support learning and personal development and culture of well-being. We know that people who are well are able to engage in deeper learning, are more productive, and have a stronger sense of community and connection — all of which help create happier, healthier campus communities. We recognize that to be well, we must maintain healthy and resilient ecosystems and that when people and place are considered together, our communities can truly thrive. Our institutions must confront the complex issues about health, wellbeing, and sustainability of people and the planet. The Okanagan Charter provides higher education with a common language, principles, and framework to put campuses at the forefront of this movement. For our learning communities who live, work learn, and play on our campuses, we must begin to plan health promotion actions into the fabric of our campus setting. This session will help leaders and administrators understand what it means to become a health promoting campus and how understanding the Okanagan Charter is an important step to creating a campus plan for wellbeing.

After the webinar what are the 4 things attendees will be able to do when they get back to their institutions?

  1. Know why being a health promoting campus matters.
  2. Understand the Okanagan Charter and why it is ground breaking.
  3. Articulate how the campus physical environment plays a role in becoming a health promoting campus?
  4. Advocate for a collective impact frameworks, campus master plans, and policies for creating well-being in settings, communities, and individuals.


Why be a health promoting campus – With young adults in a new environment, our higher education settings can enhance their capacity of learning at the population-level, provide experience in a setting where health, wellbeing and sustainability are lived priorities while becoming a models for moving past individualistic bio-behavioral efforts to the creation of a community committed to wellbeing. We will cite research and report on practices in health promotion which demonstrated that the systematic approach is the most effective. An important element of this system is the setting, the more than human world, aka environment.

What is the Okanagan Charter – The Okanagan Charter is especially valuable to health promoting campuses because it is visionary, inspiring and very practical, with an action framework that can be adapted to any campus. This section will review the international effort around creating the charter, its components, and strategies for effective implementation.

Planning for Wellbeing – Establish why the quality and design physical environment or “setting” is critical element of being a health promoting campus.  How the planning process can help to embed health and wellbeing into all aspects of campus culture, across the administration, operations and academic mandates.

Examples and lessons learned – Through our practices and experiences the presenters will share how they have led health promotion action and collaboration using a Collective Impact Framework on their campus, within their locally communities and influenced our global community.


Matt Dolf, PHD – Director, Strategic Support, University of British Columbia. Providing strategic direction for wellbeing-promotion at UBC since 2014, Matt takes a systems and settings approach to facilitate UBC Wellbeing – a collaborative effort to make the University a better place to live, work, play, and learn for its 80,000 community members on its 1,000 acres of land. Matt Chairs the Canadian Health Promoting Campuses Network and is a member of the International Health Promoting Universities & Colleges Steering Group. He was part of the planning and development team for the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges which produced the Okanagan Charter. Matt holds a Doctorate in the field of sport and sustainability from the UBC School of Kinesiology, and has researched and published in the areas of sport management, environmental impact assessment, sustainability, and health promotion.

Dennis J. Swinford, ASLA – For the past decade, Dennis has led campus planning teams at Harvard University, The University of Massachusetts Amherst, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He led master plans, capital plans, campus system plans, precinct plans, and feasibility studies, setting the course for campus investments totaling more than $1 billion.  He has also participated in the creation of sustainability plans and is an advocate for and student of the successful integration of both processes.  He is currently the Leader of the Higher Education Planning practice for Goody Clancy.

Paula Lee Swinford, MS, MHA – Director, Health Promotion Strategy, University of Southern California is a nationally recognized leader in college health, bringing a wealth of experience in health promotion, public health, and campus residential life to her work for student wellbeing. She is recognized as a foundational and transformative leader. As the first Health Promotion professional to be elected President of the American College Health Association (ACHA) an organization founded in advancing the health of college students, she championed the use of population-level assessment data and standards. She has appointed to the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), advised Healthier Princeton, and served for over a decade as Executive Editor of the Journal of American College Health. She currently heads up the backbone organization for the USC Wellbeing Collective.

Presentation Slides

Presentation slides

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