The Overton Window

David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH

The Overton window is a theoretical construct that embodies the menu of governmental policies that the populace find acceptable or desirable. Throughout history, our politicians have instinctually recognized that the ideas most likely to get them elected reside within the window. Alternately, advocating for radical ideas outside the window leads to a stunted or marginal political trajectory. Amending the contents or scope of the window requires a mood shift in society at-large. A subjective review of modern environmental health sentiment suggests that interests central to our profession might be edging toward the window, possibly offering us a once in a generation opportunity to advance values we and our communities hold dear. This month's column explores how we can, if even possible, get our arms around the increasing interest and enthusiasm for environmental health and harness the energy to advance the profession.

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Journal of Environmental Health
March 2020
Volume 82, Number 7