Air Quality, Health and Society

Poor air quality affects everyone’s health, regardless of age, race, education, or class and threatens terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, visual aesthetics, and even economic vitality. Bad air respects no political boundaries; solutions to these challenging problems require cooperation between individuals, industries, and governments, sometimes on a global scale. Led by an atmospheric scientist and a writer/activist students will explore the broad issue of air quality through the science, economics, and policies that control the quality of the air we breathe.

We will begin by investigating air quality problems in metropolitan regions: how air pollutants enter the atmosphere, how they are chemically transformed, how the atmosphere acts to concentrate or disperse these pollutants, and how they are ultimately removed from the atmosphere. Next, we will hear from a series of guest lecturers, experts on the health, environmental, and economic impacts of air pollution. We will then examine the roles played by energy use policy, urban planning, politics, and lifestyle choices. In the second semester, students will create a class project of their own design, using their new knowledge and contacts to create meaningful outcomes and partnerships for our community.

Wednesdays | 3:00 – 6:00 PM | Marriott Honors Community (MHC) 1205

Honors Praxis Lab Clean Air Initiative website


Kevin Perry, Ph.D., Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Kevin is an associate professor and chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah. As a child growing up in Kansas, he was fascinated by the ferocity of the thunderstorms that frequented his home. He completed his undergraduate work at Iowa State University with a B.S. in meteorology. After briefly considering a career as a broadcast meteorologist, he decided to attend the University of Washington where he completed a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences. He then moved to the University of California, Davis to complete a post-doc studying the air quality of the National Parks, Monuments, and Wilderness Areas. He has been a professor at the University of Utah since 2002 and continues to conduct research in all aspects of air pollution. Dr. Perry was recognized as an accomplished and engaging teacher when he was awarded the University Early Career Teaching Award in 2005-2006.

Stephen Trimble, M.S., Honors College
Writer, photographer, and conservationist Stephen Trimble has published more than 20 award-winning books about the relationships that tie together Western landscapes, citizens, and native peoples. He teaches writing in the Honors College at the University of Utah. Steve has co-taught two other Praxis Labs, serving as the humanities voice and writing advisor in partnership with, respectively, a law professor and an astrophysicist. Steve is excited about participating in the Air Quality lab as both a teacher and learner. He makes his home in Salt Lake City and in the redrock country of Torrey, Utah. His website is