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Welcome to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society

Welcome to the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough!

As Chair of the Department of Health and Society, I’m delighted to welcome you to our website and our Department.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to work on the land on which our Centre is situated. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home of many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle island.

Health and Society is home to a diverse community of students, teachers, and researchers. We ask cutting-edge questions about health, disability, illness, and disease both locally and globally and from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Talented and committed students and faculty work together in complimentary and linked degree options: a BA Major or BA Major Co-op, a BSc Major or BSc Major Co-op, and Canada’s only Minor in Health Humanities.

  • We examine health and illness across the life course—from infancy and early childhood to adolescence, adulthood, and old age.
  •  Our special interest in immigrant and Indigenous health leads us to investigate how social contexts—including work conditions, the law, and ideas about nation—shape experiences of health and illness.
  • We consider biological and genetic factors that affect susceptibility and resistance to a broad spectrum of diseases and aspects of the natural and built environment that shape health and well-being from an individual to a global level.
  • Using humanistic perspectives and arts-based knowledges, we consider lived experiences of health, illness, and disability in Scarborough, Toronto, North America, and Eastern Europe.
  • We ask questions about how and why some lives, bodies, and communities are held up as healthy while others are unjustly viewed as somehow deficient.
  • We believe that interdisciplinary research and teaching are crucial to understanding pressing health concerns, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We understand anti-Back racism and other questions of social inequality and justice to be public health concerns.
  • Our scholars conduct research in partnership with the communities we study—working with them to, for example, determine research questions, design studies, collect and analyze data, and share findings that make a meaningful difference in people’s worlds.

Health and Society students bring their learning to a variety of scholarly, professional, and community contexts. Working with award-winning faculty and teaching assistants, students produce ethnographic videos, create policy briefs, and visit health centres and community farms in the Greater Toronto Area. They curate museum exhibits on health and illness, write papers that go on to be published in academic journals, conduct research at area hospitals, and prepare to enter (and win!) international case competitions. Our Student Association welcomes students to the Majors and Minors, hosts workshops on, for example, preparing for employment and graduate school, and offers support during exam time. Our graduates go on to graduate and professional school in the humanities, social sciences, and health sciences; law, and medicine. They pursue careers in health research, policy making, education, health care and medicine, and community change.

I invite you to learn more about our programs, our faculty, and our students by exploring our website. We are eager to hear from students, families, scholars, and community partners and are always available to answer questions about our programs and your goals. Our doors are open!

Jessica Fields
Professor and Chair

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The Department of Health and Society: We're the home of Canada's new generation of health change-makers.

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Health and Society Major Program Overview

UTSC’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society (DHS) offers two complimentary, interlinked Majors for undergraduates interested in the rigorous interdisciplinary study of health: “Population Health” (BSc) and “Health Policy” (BA).

Students who choose to major in Population Health will anchor their knowledge in a sophisticated understanding of health and illness’s biological determinants, including epidemiology, aging and the life cycle, and the impact of environmental factors on health, as realized in evolving Canadian and international settings.

Students who choose to major in Health Policy will become experts in the structure and effectiveness of health care systems, including public health policy, health crises and management, caregiving across the life course, and pressing issues in health care delivery for marginalized communities. Special emphasis is placed on how matters of culture and identity—including race, ethnicity, gender, and colonialism—directly impact health outcomes and services across Canada and in the wide world beyond.

Health and Society Minor Program Overview

As of April 2017, the Department of Health and Society is proud to offer Canada’s first Minor Program in Health Humanities, which explores human health and illness through the methods and materials of the creative arts and humanities. For more info on this exciting Minor and the award-winning Health Humanities research done by our Health and Society undergrads, check out www.scopelab.ca.

Learn more about the Health and Society majors and minor programs