The earliest American colleges were designed with health in mind. Today, however, the importance of the relationship between the campus environment and student health has waned in favor of individually based evaluations and behavioral interventions, an approach that fails to consider the contexts in which behaviors occur and overlooks the fundamental role of place—and those who design it—in shaping human health. In this article I argue that, in fact, the college campus matters to student health and thus must be designed and evaluated accordingly. Using an ecological model of health to explore two burgeoning student health concerns—mental health and sedentary behavior—I identify health needs not currently addressed by standard assessments of student health, define a new method for evaluating the environmental contexts in which health-related behaviors occur, and offer recommendations for planning and designing campuses as healthy places.
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