Special Topics Courses

Water colour painting of peaches on a branch with leaves. By Jian Feng.

Health and Society offers a variety of special topics course to complement permanent courses and develop new course sequences. All of the special topics courses count towards program requirements. Some of these may be one-time-only opportunities, so register for them while you can!

Visit the academic course calendar or speak with the ICHS registrar to determine which topics courses suit your major path.

Fall 2020/Winter 2021

New Course! HLTB30H3F - Current Issues in Health: How to Live in a Pandemic: Interdisciplinary Thinking about COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that health is a deeply interdisciplinary issue. Taught by an award-winning team of professors, this new course will help students learn to confidently navigate--in real time--the range of research questions, designs, and disciplinary knowledge needed to respond to the complexity of the emergent global COVID-19 pandemic. Interacting with a range of cutting-edge, thought-provoking, and creative readings and assignments, students will be actively involved in investigating how today's top health concern involves new--and not-so-new--cultural, political, artistic, geographical, historical, and policy concerns that make the COVID-19 pandemic a truly interdisciplinary phenomenon. Part II (Winter) course code TBA

Prerequisites: No pre-requisite; all are welcome. HLTA03/A03 recommended.

HLTC52F - Special Topics in Health Humanities: Creative Research Practices in Aging
Growing old is not merely a physiological or biological phenomenon. In this course we will examine older age from an arts- and humanities-based perspective, with particular focus on the role of arts-based therapies, creative engagement, and humanities-informed health research initiatives involving older people and/or the aging process. What do arts-based health research methods add to our understanding of growing older, and how can these insights be implemented at the micro-, mezzo-, and macro-levels of personal conduct, health research and policy? How might the rigorously creative (re)imagination of aging, older age, and caregiving provide enhanced resources that enable health providers--and the public at large--to challenge prevalent, and largely negative, personal and cultural narratives of growing older? With reference to a range of concrete examples in arts-based health research in aging, students will learn how creative practices (including digital storytelling, improvisational theatre, and narrative, among others) have been used in the context of addressing health issues related to aging, older age, and intergenerational relationships in a diverse range of local, national, and international settings.

HLTD53F - Special Topics in Health Humanities: Disability Arts & Culture
This unique course offers an opportunity for undergraduate students to engage with the vibrant field of disability arts through scholarly and popular readings, discussion of artistic works, and participation in an applied term project related to the upcoming exhibition #CripRitual at the Doris McCarthy Gallery co-curated by Dr. Hartblay and collaborators. Throughout the term, students will: review the core concepts of the disability studies; learn about the concepts of “disability culture” and “disability justice” as developed by scholars, artists, and activists; practice analyzing artworks through a disability culture lens; learn and/or review the core tenets of disability access; learn about disability access practices in gallery and museum exhibition (including COVID-19 related innovations); and have an opportunity to interview working artists in the field of disability arts. Students will have the opportunity revise their artist interviews to be posted to the #CripRitual exhibition website. Course readings will include the textbook Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction by Petra Kuppers and excerpts from other works.

Prerequisites: HLTB50, good academic standing, or permission of the instructor (students in ACM interested in the course are encouraged to contact the instructor for permission).

HLTD04H3 (Fall) & HLTD08H3* (Winter) - Special Topics in Health: Implementation Science in Global Health
Do you have an interest in learning how health-related research is translated into policy, practice, and meaningful impact? Are you interested in conducting independent research through a two-semester based course, with the chance to present your findings at an international conference?  If so, then this course may be for you. Health practitioners have generally been successful in developing evidence-based health interventions to solve public health problems, however, there have been challenges in translating and scaling-up these interventions to save and improve lives in an equitable manner in low- and middle-income countries. This course is designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge of the role of implementation science in scaling health interventions and how these lessons might be applied to improve global health equity. Through case studies and research projects, students will review and employ implementation science frameworks, such as the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, to identify key factors in the development and adoption of specific interventions/technologies. Students will learn about the importance and practice of implementation science in the context of specific health interventions/technologies and the unique socio-cultural, financial and logistical constraints that are present in such settings.

Implementation Science in Global Health is a two-semester research-based course (HLTD04H3 in the fall, and HLTD08H3 in the spring) where students conduct in-class research on implementation science in scaling health interventions in the context of global health equity. Students will have the unique opportunity to present their implementation science research findings to a scientific audience at the United for Sight Global Health and Innovations Conference (GHIC) that is set to take place at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in April 2021. GHIC is the world’s leading and largest global health conference and students will have the opportunity to network with over 2,000 professionals and students from 55 countries, contribute to their overall research profile and build the skills and experiences needed to communicate confidently across cultures in both academic and informal settings.

Prerequisites: At least 1.5 C-level HTL courses. HLTD04H3 is prerequisite for HLTD08H3.

HLTD21H3F - Special Topics in Health: Environmental contaminants, vulnerability and toxicity
This course is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of the potential effects on human health of exposure to environmental contaminants, with special attention to population groups particularly vulnerable to toxic insults. Through lectures, guest speakers, case studies and group projects, the course will cover these specific topics:
1)           Methods for the evaluation of environmental health,
2)           Environmental exposure and vulnerability, and
3)           Classes of contaminants: sources, pathways, health effects and mechanisms of toxicity.
Furthermore, students will become familiar with case studies that illustrate the role of interdisciplinary research in studying complex environmental health problematics.

Prerequisites: BIOA11H3, HLTB22H3, ANTC67H3 or HLTC27H3, HLTC22H3 and HLTC24H3.

HLTD12H3S - Special Topics in Health: Population health approaches to healthy neighbourhood designs
The neighbourhoods in which we are born into, live, work, play, and age influences our health and wellbeing across our lifespan. Globally, the rapid rise of urbanization, economic and population growth has contributed to increased levels of air pollution, physical inactivity, unhealth diets, sedentary behaviours, noise, and social isolation. Growing evidence has shown that designing neighbourhoods that are more conducive to healthy living can reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases, injuries, mental illness, and mortality. In this course, we will apply an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how planning and public health intersect to promote the creation of healthy built environments and achieve better health outcomes. Specifically, we will explore how population health research promotes the adoption of interventions and policies targeting healthy neighbourhood designs to impact health and wellbeing of populations.

HLTD21H3S - Special Topics - Enabling Health & Well-Being and Reducing Inequities in Cities: an investigation into the World Health Organization
This course provides a foundational understanding of the work of the World Health Organization (WHO), root causes of ill health, and health equity.  It draws on this foundation to delve into undrstanding how the WHO concetualizes equity, its initiatives at the city-level (global + local = "global" health) that seek to improve equity, and investigates how this work does or does not align with theory.  The course is designed to foster critical thinking and personal reflection to imagine an improved way forward for the WHO around health equity in cities.

Prerequisite:  Completion of 1.5 credits at the C-level in HLT courses from the program requirements from one of the Major/Major Co-operative programs in Health Studies

HLTD23H3S - Special Topics - Inequities for Women with Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)
This course will introduce the types of FGM/C, cultures that practice it, and varying perceptions on the practice.  We will explore the inequitable health outcomes women face in the west related to their FGM/C and doctors' preparedness to treat this problem.
Considering the role of the socio-cultural environment will help us to delve into different perspectives across natal and diasporic contexts.  We will explore and critique a multitude of ways of researching this topic, comparing and contrasting methodological and theoretical approaches.

Prerequisite: Completion of 1.5 credits at the C-Level in HLT courses from the program requirements from one of the Major/Major Co-operative programs in Health Studies

Summer 2020

HLTC48H3 Y, Special Topics in Health: Critical examination of the Global Food System, Food Insecurity & Health Inequities
This course critically examines the global food system and its relationship to food insecurity and health inequities.  Particular attention is given to the historical, political, and economic forces shaping the global food system and different approaches used to address food insecurity, including but not limiited to, agricultural commercialization, food justice and food sovereignty.  Case studies from high, midd, and low-income countries will be drawn on to illustrate course concepts.

HLTD21H3 Y - Special Topics in Health: Social Inequalities in Health
This course will focus on social inequalities in health highlighting contemporary issues in cancer screening and prevention.  Students will gain an understanding of social inequalities and inequities in relation to cancer screening and prevention.  Topics will cover inequalities between and within countries with reference to a variety of socioeconomic gradients including social economic status and income, education, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnic minority groups, other disadvantaged groups including Indigenous populations, geography and access to healthcare.  Additionally, students will explore real-world approaches to addressing social inequalities in health and the role of healthy public policies in this context.

HLTD22H3 Y - Special Topics in Health: Sleep: Structure, Function and Pathology
Sleep is a universal, carefully regulated process.  Getting quality sleep and enough of it is essential for development, neurocognitive performance, regulation of mood, metabolic homeostasis and effective functioning of immune system.  Disturbed sleep in its various manifestations is associated with adverse health outcomes and huge economic burden at the individual and societal levels.  This course emphsizes the growing interface between sleep and health, covering the following topics: (1) Sleep structure and regulation across the lifespan, (2) Dream theories, types and distrurbances, (3) Sleep disorders, (4) Basics of polysomnography and other diagnostic tools of sleep medicine, and (5) Clinical cases covering a wide spectrum of sleep disorders.  The course aims to enhance sleep literacy among the younger generation.