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General News & Events

Graduate School Seminar 

On October 20th, HSSA, Health and Society Student Association, hosts an online seminar on Graduate School. This is an opportunity to learn about the process and also get some answers to questions about Grad School. This event also has two special guests speakers, Dr. Michelle Silver and Dr. Nicholas Spence. If you have any questions or just curious about the process of Graduate School, here's your chance!

Register Now :





New research on the complex factors that shape COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among racialized sexual and gender minorities aims to build trust in the health-care system

UTSC Health and Society Assistant Professor Notisha Massaquoi and Peter A. Newman, Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, in partnership with Toronto Public Health and several community-based agencies, have launched the VOICES (Vaccine Outreach Integrating Community Engagement and Science) project. The initiative is aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the pandemic experience of racialized sexual and gender minorities and the complex factors associated with vaccination decision-making in this group. They’ll ultimately share this knowledge with government, policymakers and community leaders in hopes of both improving pandemic responses and enhancing vaccination rates. Read the full report here.

Safe Hands, Safe Hearts



The #SafeHandsSafeHearts study aims to explore COVID-19 related challenges, and provide information and support to diverse LGBTQ+ people in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The study is co-led by Prof. Peter A. Newman, PhD and Notisha Massaquoi, PhD from the University of Toronto, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and Women's Health in Women's Hands Community Health Centre. The study includes a survey and 3 sessions of online peer counseling to provide information and support. Applicants will receive $30 for completing each of the 3 online sessions and 2 brief follow-up surveys (total $150). Read more here.





Higher levels of organic pollutants found inside homes located near natural gas wells: UTSC study

A new University of Toronto Scarborough study led by Department of Health and Society Professor Élyse Caron-Beaudoin has found that those living close to natural gas wells are exposed to higher levels of certain organic pollutants in their homes. The study looked at levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the air and drinking water in homes of pregnant women living in a region of northeastern British Columbia. Read more here.


Course Overviews:

Insight on two courses being offered this academic year. HLTC04 and HLTC47 are both engaging courses that delve into your society: 
















Health and Society Professor Notisha Massaquoi on CNN (Sept 20, 2021)

Ahead of the federal election on September 20, Health and Society Professor Notisha Massaquoi spoke with CNN's Paula Newton about Canada's increasingly polarized politics, and the strain COVID-19 has placed on racialized communities. You can read the full article here.


Emily Chan sits in her power wheelchair outdoors on UTSC campusHealth Studies Alumna Emily Chan featured in University of Toronto Magazine

Department of Health and Society alumna Emily Chan is featured in the cover story of the Spring 2021 University of Toronto Magazine. Chan, who completed her BSc in 2019, is now pursuing a master's degree at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. The article, about U of T's efforts to increase accessibility notes that achieving true accessibility requires a shift in perspective; it means recognizing and eliminating ableism in all its forms. As Chan explains in the article, while she has learned to advocate for herself, not all students have the capacity or energy to speak up. Read the full article here



poster with headshots of students overlaid on a dark green image of the world map. Symposium session descriptions are next to each headshot

HLTD08 (Implementation Science in Global Health) Presents: Implementation Science in Global Health Symposium

Please come join us to see the exciting projects students of HLTD08 have been working on.
Date and Time: March 23rd, 2021, 11 AM - 1 PM


Logo text reads centre for global disability studies. A black inky circle with smaller red and pink circles adjoiningNew Centre for Global Disability Studies Launches

The Centre for Global Disability Studies (CGDS) is a new research centre established in 2020 and housed at University of Toronto Scarborough. CGDS supports transdisciplinary research in disability studies and promotes a transnational, anticolonial approach to advancing the field of disability studies, with a strong commitment to interdependence, accessibility, and disability justice. The Centre will promote disability studies and disability justice by starting critical conversations, holding events, and providing funding for research activities and events. CGDS members include faculty, researchers, graduate students, and staff across the three campuses of the University of Toronto. DHS professor Dr. Cassandra Hartblay is the Centre's Director. 


Academic Research Panel on Neurogenerative Diseases

Alzheimer’s Society UTSC, in collaboration with the @pnda_utsc, is hosting a virtual Academic Research Panel! Join us for opportunities to network with fellow students & tune in for our special guest speaker’s presentation, Dr. Joel Watts! 

Dr. Watts is a current PI at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at UofT. His focus involves developing mouse and cellular models that can help us better study neurodegenerative diseases so that novel therapies can be developed! 🧠 Join is for the Academic Research Panel on March 31st - April 1st to learn more about Dr. Watts’s incredible research and journey though his presentation! 

Looking Back and Looking Forward: A Conversation on Japan and Canada’s Ageing Societies

DHS Acting Chair and Prof. Michelle Silver will take part in Looking Back and Looking Forward: A Conversation on Japan and Canada’s Ageing Societies, a webinar featuring Prof. Hiroko Akiyama of the University of Tokyo. Prof. Akiyama will present her research on the ageing society, and will be be joined by Prof. Margarita Estevez-Abe (University of Toronto) and Prof. Silver for discussions following the presentation. Use the zoom registration link to sign up for the seminar. 

The Modern-Day Griot Project: An exciting opportunity for students with a lived experience of Blackness

This project, through the means of storytelling, offers students who have a lived experience of Blackness the opportunity to look at how they see the world, and celebrate the Black communities they make up.

We will take a five-month-long journey of self-reflection, healing, celebration, and implementation – showing that greatness and excellence is found in all aspects of Black life. Students will also have an opportunity to work with Black high school students, and help start the journey of telling their stories and changing their communities. Watch the video here!

Applications are open until December 8. Use the form here to apply. Please contact DHS Professor Suzanne Sicchia with any questions. 

New Acting Chair

Professor Michelle Pannor Silver has been appointed Acting Chair of the Department of Health and Society. Department of Health and Society Chari, Professor Jessica Fields, has been appointed Interim Vice-Dean Faculty Affairs, Equity & Success in the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean.

Department of Health and Society kicks off its 2020-2021 Resesarch Seminar Series

The Department of Health and Society will hold a number of Research Seminars throughout the year. The talks will be hosted on Zoom on select Mondays from 12:00 - 1:15. Click here for a full schedule and to sign up to receive the Zoom link via email.

All are welcome. 

Miss a seminar? You can watch past seminars on our Youtube channel! 





Department of Health and Society Studies Awarded U of T's COVID-19 Student Engagement Award

This past summer, UofT students, Kiran Nabi, Omer Jamal, Ranie Ahmed, and Waleed Ishak were awarded UofT’s COVID-19 Student Engagement Award. Under the supervision of Dr. Nida Mustafa, these students conducted a research project which shed light on the importance of racial equity in the fight against COVID-19. The goal of the project was to explain why collecting race-based COVID-19 data is so important in ensuring an equitable response to the current pandemic. Research shows that black communities are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, low-income and unstable housing in Canada (Gardezi et. Al 2008). During this pandemic, these present health disparities were further exacerbated and produced greater negative health outcomes for the black community. These student researchers, therefore, felt it was their responsibility to gather data that would help vulnerable communities respond accordingly to the virus. The research solely focused on Black communities in the GTA, and various community health centres were contacted to share their insights through interviews and podcasts. 

 Top row (left to right): Ranie Ahmed, Omer Jamal, Waleed Ishak

Bottom row (left to right): Kiran Nabi, Dr. Nida Mustafa

The findings from the research project can be found on the website, “”. From their analysis, the student researchers found that a “one size fits all” response is not appropriate in this pandemic. Particular communities, including black communities, are more vulnerable due to greater risk of living with low income, food insecurity and unstable housing. Temporary funding and support will not lessen the systemic social and economic disadvantages these communities already face. Therefore, greater attention needs to be paid to ensure equity. The entire research project can be found on the above website (including podcasts, interviews, a research poster, and an infographic flyer). The student researchers really hope you have a look!


Health and Society Scholars-in-Residence Adapt to COVID-19 Research Restrictions 

Conducting research during the pandemic has presented challenges both for faculty and for students for whom research assistantships and internships provide valuable experience. Faculty in the department of Health and Society have responded with creativity and flexibility, finding ways to continue to provide students with the opportunity to be involved in research, even from a distance.

Health and Society professor Dr. Laura Bisaillon’s current project is an example of how researchers have adapted their work to benefit scholarship, social change, and students. Dr. Bisaillon’s project was part of the University of Toronto’s Jackman Scholars-in-Residence (SiR) program. Typically, participating students would live in residence at one of the University’s campuses for four weeks in May while working on faculty projects. Due to the pandemic, on-campus research and residence were impossible in May. So, six SiR who worked on Dr. Bisaillon’s research project from May to July found creative ways to collaborate from India, China, Costa Rica, Vancouver and Toronto – using Discord, a group chatting network originally built for gamers.

Dr. Bisaillon’s project, Making Medical Inadmissibility in Canadian Immigration Law Visible: Drawing, Filming and Telling Ethnographic Stories, unpacks the logic behind federal immigration law that excludes people with chronic illness and disability from permanently settling in Canada. According to Jessica Ye, one of the SiR, the goal is “to show how medical inadmissibility and the institutional structures which support it harm people in very real ways. This barrier to entry, to residency, to citizenship, is nothing short of unethical.” A central contribution is telling stories from the standpoint of people affected by medical inadmissibility. Dr. Bisaillon explains, “scholarship anchored in the relevancies of people with first-hand experience with medical inadmissibility is highly desirable for its transformative promise.”

The SiR used stories told by persons affected by medical inadmissibility from Dr. Bisaillon’s scholarly work and forthcoming book to mobilize their own creative work, producing an animated documentary film. A graphic novel with the University of Toronto’s ethnoGRAPHIC Series is the group’s next undertaking.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the SiR experience was a valuable one for the students. Zihan Yi, a recent graduate from the University of Toronto’s St. George campus’s Art History program, described the chance to work on the project as a “once in a lifetime experience,” and Aida Radoncic, who also graduated recently from the St. George campus with majors in Art History and Anthropology explained that “working on this project as a group has highlighted how we, both as academics and artists, had to adapt and create new ways of approaching collaborative work virtually.” The partnership was also valuable for Dr. Bisaillon: “They are among the most curious students I have ever met at the University of Toronto. The experience was brilliant.”



From left to right, top to bottom: Ujwal Mantha, Laura Bisaillon, Zihan Yi, Ze Xi (Jessica) Ye, Ke Er (Amy) Zhang, Aida Radoncic, and Tania Montoya


The Department of Health and Society (formerly ICHS) has been profiled in the University of Toronto Scarborough's online magazine, the UTSC Commons. The article, The future of innovation means casting a wider net — Bringing disciplines together to explore the big questions, highlights how the diverse and innovative approaches to health research at ICHS come together to change the conversation about what it means to study and teach about health. 

Congratulations to Health and Society Teaching Assistant Nida Mustafa! Nida is the recipient of the Teaching Assistant's Training Program TA Teaching Excellence Award for 2020. Nida is a PhD candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences. Her doctoral research explores women's lived-experiences of chronic pain at the intersection of culture, gender and immigration. Here is what Nida had say about her outstanding work at ICHS:

As a Teaching Assistant, I have had the opportunity to interact and teach students, as well as learn from their questions, stories and experiences. ICHS students are brilliant thinkers who critically engage with course concepts and materials. They think deeply about health and illness by situating experiences within social, historical and political conditions. In my teaching, I aim to foster such critical dialogue with the use of case studies, allowing students to apply key concepts learned in class to real world situations. I also create a positive space in the classroom for students to ask questions, discuss and brainstorm with peers in an open and supportive environment. The relationships I have built with students over the past several years further attests to the rewarding experience I have had as a Teaching Assistant at ICHS. 


The Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society presents the UTSC International Health Film Series and Expo, featuring four film screenings and guest speakers from across the University and the community. Screenings take place each Tuesday evening in March, from 6-9 pm. Screenings are free and pizza will be served. Please click here for more information.


The head of the UTC Alzheimer’s Society, Meryl Rae Villacastin, hosted an event with Shepherd Village, a senior home in Scarborough, to help ICHS students learn how to become volunteers and engage in intergenerational activities like games and art with seniors.

Professor Cassandra Hartblay appeared in episode 2.1 of the podcast Contra* talking with Aimi Hamraie, from Vanderbilt University and disability dance performance artist Alice Sheppard about how disability culture and design practices shape contemporary disability art. The podcast and transcript are available here.

ICHS faculty convened for a day-long retreat on December 4th, 2019 to discuss the unit's core values and its shared vision for the future. 

Professor Laura Bisaillon's narrative photo exhibit, titled “What does Forced Immobility Look and Feel Like? Being Young and Defiant in Eritrea,” hangs at the Yorkville Public Library until the end of October, 2019. The exhibition was covered in a story by the Toronto Star.

ICHS and CCDS cosponsor a panel on community engagement in the UTSC Library Maker Space on October 30th from 5-7pm! The panel features the following community experts: Liben Gebremikael, Executive Director of TAIBU Community Health Centre; Alfred Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director of the Regent Park Centre for Community Learning & Development; Abena Offeh-Gyimah & Talisha Ramsaroop, of the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership; Joanne Joanne McKiernan, Executive Director Volunteer Toronto. Professor Susannah Bunce, Department of Human Geography, and Kimberley Tull, Director, UTSC Community Development & Engagement serve as discussants.

A new health studies course on Sleep: Structure, Function, and Pathology taught by Tatyana Mollayeva is featured in UTSC news!

Congratulations to ICHS students Danica Bui, Fatema Motiwala, Fatima Haque, Nawrose Khan and Sarah Syed and ICHS Assistant Professor Laura Bisaillon for the publication of "Becoming Migration Researchers: Disquieting Borders with Auto-Ethnography," a fall 2019 special issue of the journal ALiGN featuring their work! Check out their writing here.

ICHS has launched a new website menu! Check out our new & improved program descriptions, student resources and FAQ pages. And make sure to update your browser bookmarks with our new URL (!

ICHS has moved to Highland Hall! In November 2018 the ICHS faculty and staff settled in to new offices on the 2nd floor of UTSC's newest building.

In the summer of 2019, ICHS bids farewell to our interim director, Holly Wardlow, and welcomes Jessica Fields as the new director of ICHS!