What makes cities healthy, equitable and environmentally sustainable?

Starting in April of 2017, the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University and partnersthroughout Latin America and in the United States are working together to study how urban environments and urban policies impact the health of city residents within Latin America. Their findings will inform policies and interventions to create healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable cities world-wide. The five-year project is funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of its Our Planet, Our Health initiative, which focuses on research examining the connections between the environment and human health.

The Social System Design Lab is working with the SALURBAL project to convene group model building workshops in multiple cities in Latin America to bring together researchers, policymakers, and community representatives to explore food and transportation systems and their impact on healthy cities.

SSDL Project Lead

Ellis Ballard




St. Louis, USA

Lima, Peru

São Paulo, Brazil

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Project Goals

  • Bring diverse stakeholders into an initiative to promote healthy, equitable, and sustainable cities in Latin America
  • Gain experience in application of systems approaches in urban health problems and use of causal loop diagrams to identify and explore policy options
  • Identify and prioritize research questions and practice implications to be pursued by the SALURBAL project using systems modeling in the future


Using community-based system dynamics modeling to understand the complex systems that influence health in cities: The SALURBAL study

Langellier, B.A.; Kuhlberg, J.A.; Ballard, E.. Slesinski, C.; Stankov, I.; Gouveia, N.; Meiesel, J.D.; Kroker-Lobos, M.F.; Sarmiento, O.L.; Teixeira, W.; & Diez Rous, A.V. (2019). Using community based system dynamics modeling to understand the complex factors that influence health in cities: The SALURBAL study. Health and Place,  60.