An urban environment enriches the experience of students, faculty and staff, but also poses certain challenges to the health and safety of its residents. Lehigh is building more effective partnerships to identify those challenges and work together toward their resolution.
A recent study from the Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community shows that 23.6 percent of Bethlehem students have been diagnosed with asthma, while the national average is only 9 percent. Environmental policy specialists and engineers at Lehigh have partnered with St. Luke’s Hospital Community Health Department in Bethlehem to examine the potential environmental health issues that current and future vehicular traffic could have on Bethlehem’s childhood asthma rates.
Breena Holland, associate professor of political science, and others have been measuring levels of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere in heavily trafficked areas of South Bethlehem. They have found that the air along South Bethlehem Greenway is less polluted than the air on nearby streets, and they’re working with students at Broughal Middle School to develop a better, cleaner path to walk to school.
Further research will examine lung-level pollution, indoor triggers such as mold and dander, and environmental policy changes and awareness that could lower asthma rates and help Lehigh Valley children breathe a little easier.
Lehigh strives to create an environment where students and neighbors can feel at ease on campus and in the surrounding community.
The Lehigh University Police Department (LUPD), one of only three campus police forces accredited by the state of Pennsylvania, works in concert with local police, fire and community organizations to ensure that South Bethlehem remains a safe neighborhood in which to live, work and play. In January 2010, a cooperative community policing program was formed between Lehigh and the Bethlehem Police Department.
The program places officers from the state-accredited LUPD in the neighborhoods surrounding the university in an effort to promote safety and quality of life for Lehigh students, faculty, staff and neighborhood residents. The community policing model employs partnerships to address issues that give rise to crime and other public safety issues such as noise, litter and parking.
Lehigh University Police Department
Chief Edward K. Shupp
The Bethlehem Mayor’s South Side Task Force offers residents a forum for constructive dialogue on the issues that most impact Bethlehem’s South Side neighborhoods. One event, the annual South Side Clean-Up, helps build a cohesive community while improving the overall quality of life for city residents. Nearly 200 members of the Lehigh community work in partnership with the task force, the City of Bethlehem, Northampton Community College, the Sands Casino, the Boys & Girls Club, as well as neighborhood block watches and local school and faith-based groups for the annual event.
The university is a central meeting point where groups come together to remove and dispose of items that may otherwise land on the streets or surrounding areas of the neighborhood. Working toward a common cause adds meaning to the day for Lehigh and neighbors who take pride in a clean, healthy environment.