Our environment has important physical and psychological effects on us all – that includes our built environment from community design to styles of architecture. During our statewide historic preservation conference, we will hear from Dr. Debarati Majumdar Narayan of the Health Impact Project about the impact of historic preservation on the health of our communities and ourselves.

What impact does our built environment have on health?

As preservation addresses the physical material of our built environment – and those materials’ potential positive or negative healthy impacts – so too, does preservation address an emotional connection to a time and place in history. This unique plenary session will place our preservation work in a broader context, identify challenges, and illuminate solutions for linking historic preservation and healthy communities.

“Preserving History, Promoting Health” by Dr. Mimi Narayan

Dr. Debarati Majumdar “Mimi” Narayan is a Principal Associate at the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The goal of the national Health Impact Project is to reduce health inequities and improve the health of all people by ensuring that health is a valued consideration in public policy. Dr. Narayan is directing the Project’s strategic initiative that assess the relationship of climate change and health, and specifically tribal health. The relevant nature of her work and its potential impact on communities has attracted national and international interest and recognition.

“People, Old Places and Health” by Dr. Jeremy C. Wells


Dr. Narayan and her work will be introduced by Dr. Jeremy C. Wells, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, with a research focus on the ways that people interact with their environment and the ways historic places – their decay and petina – influence their psychological and social health. Dr. Wells’ research utilizes applied social science methods and presents new approaches for heritage rules, laws, and regulations. In this context of health and behavior, there is additional importance placed on the work of community planning, historic preservation, and evaluating what it is to live a healthy life in a healthy place.