Special Topics Courses

The new Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society is delighted that in 2017-18 we will be able to offer a wide range of special topics courses. Most of these have not been offered before, and all of them count towards program requirements. Some of these may be one-time-only opportunities, so register for them while you can!

Courses may be added at any time based on instructor availability. Check back regularly for updates.



HLTC48H3Y Special Topics in Health - Health Communication and Media

In the summer 2018 session, the special topic for HLTC48 is Health Communication and Media. This course will introduce students to a range of issues within the field of health communication, including: theories and strategies for communicating health messages, critical analyses of health media, the use of social media for health promotion and intervention, user-generated pain narratives shared across social media, online risk behaviour, and digital health surveillance.

HLTD21H3Y Special Topics in Health - Global Perspectives on Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth

In the summer 2018 session, the special topic for HLTD21 is: Global Perspectives on Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth. This course invites students to critically analyze the rituals, practices, and beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth in a range of different cultural contexts. The course draws on diverse types of knowledge about reproduction--biomedical, religious, economic, and political--and encourages students to interrogate the ways in which these knowledges impact the pregnant and birthing body. 


FALL 2018

HLTD53HF Special Topics in Health Humanities: Documentary and Memoir for Health Humanities (Tuesdays 4-6)

How can we understand humanistic experiences of healthcare? Memoir writing and documentary media are one genre through which people speak for themselves about their experiences of care. In this course, we explore memoirs of physicians and patients, of people living with disability, of those caring for increasingly disabled parents, of global experiences of disaster, and more. We will look at practices of writing, film, and theatre to draw conclusions about what makes a documentary voice compelling. We will consider ethical concerns of the genre, and interrogate the line between truth and fiction in mediated expressions of human experiences of health, illness, and disability.



HLTD08H3S Special Topics in Health Science - Reproductive Health

Reproductive health is defined by the World Health Organization as physical, mental, and social wellbeing across the life course in all domains related to the reproductive system. This course will draw on theories and methods from demography, epidemiology, medicine, and public health to examine the determinants and components of reproductive health. A particular emphasis will be placed on sexual health, family planning, preconception health, and perinatal health and on how these are understood in the context of a growing global population. Prerequisites: HLTC27/ANTC67 and 2.0 credits at the C-level in HLT courses from the requirements of the Major/Major Co-op program in Health Studies—Population Health (Science). Recommended preparation: HLTC19 or HLTC25. Breadth Requirement: Natural Sciences.

HLTC52H3S Special Topics in Health HumanitiesGlobal Disability Studies (Thursdays 1-3)

This course takes a critical approach to understanding how the category of disability works globally. Starting from a decolonial approach, we will use an integrated social science and humanities approach to understand disability and ableism in global context. Through ethnography, novels, films, and other media, we encounter disability as a relational social experience across diverse locations in China, Kyrgyzstan, the Czech Republic, India, Australia, Africa, and North America. Students will be challenged to consider the manifold social processes by which multiple kinds of bodily difference are stigmatized, and the uneasy relationship of disability studies to the pathologizing practices of medical care and public health.


Past Years

Winter 2018

HLTC28H3 S, Special Topics in Health Studies - Global Health and Human Biology - Counts towards the Population Health (Science) Major

In the Winter 2018 term, the Special Topic for HLTC28 is Global Health and Human Biology. Apply your knowledge in human biology to solving real-life cases in global health, such as combating a potential Ebola epidemic in Africa or resolving the acute toxic encephalopathy mystery illness among children in India.  This case-study oriented course will focus on the application of human biology principles in addressing current cases in global health. This course will also examine the social, political and economic milieu in which these cases exist, as well as the dynamic interconnection between global health and human biology. HLTB22 is required preparation for this course.

HLTC29H3 S, Special Topics in Health Studies - Climate Change and Human Health - Counts towards the Population Health (Science) Majors
In the Winter 2018 term, the Special Topic for HLTC29 is Climate Change and Human Health. Climate change is an increasing concern everywhere in the world, and it impacts human health in a variety of ways. For example, it can alter environments so that disease-carrying insects can thrive in areas where they couldn’t before. This course will explore how climate change affects a range of health determinants, such as clean air, safe drinking water, agricultural production, food security, and human/insect ecological relationships, to name just a few factors. The course will also examine policies and interventions that are intended to mitigate some of these concerns.

HLTC48H3 S, Special Topics in Health Studies - Social Justice and Health - Counts towards the Health Policy (Arts) and the Population Health (Science) Majors
In the Winter 2018 term, the Special Topic for HLTC48 is Social Justice and Health.  Confronting the stubborn inequalities that negatively impact health is challenging work, but there have been many successes. This course will examine the ways in which social movements and health activism have helped to bring about change in laws, policies, corporate practices, and working conditions in order to improve health. Case studies could include: occupational health, HIV/AIDS and access to antiretrovirals, pollution and health, food safety, and access to care.

HLTD22H3 S, Special Topics in Health - Food Security and Food Sovereignty
In the Winter 2018 term, the special topic for HLTD22 is Food Security and Food Sovereignty. Food security is arguably the most important determinant of health and well being, and yet in many areas of the world there are profound challenges to achieving it. Food sovereignty – the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food, and to self-determined food production – has an important and complex relationship with food security. Using theoretical readings and case studies, this course will examine these concepts and the challenges faced by communities in achieving them.

HLTD23 S, Special Topics in Health - Global Perspectives on Mental Health and Illness
In the Winter 2018 term, the special topic for HLT D23 is Global Perspectives on Mental Health and Illness. Interest in mental health and illness has burgeoned globally in recent years. This course will examine theoretical and practical issues, challenges, and successes concerning mental health and illness. We will explore social and cultural perspectives from around the globe. Topics will include: historical and contemporary constructions of the mind and the person; notions of recovery, stigma, and resilience; power and identity; and the intersectional ways that social determinants influence opportunities for health and experiences of illness.

HLTD29H3 S, Special Topics in Health Studies: Inequality, Inequity, and Health - Homelessness and Health
In the Winter 2018 term, the special topic for HLTD29 is Homelessness and Health. This course will provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective on the root causes of homelessness, the impact of housing on health, the challenges of providing care to homeless populations, and potential recommendations for mitigating these health disparities.

HLTD47H3 S, Special Topics in Health: Advanced Topics in Health and Wellbeing - Advanced Rehabilitation Sciences: Disability Studies and Lived Experiences of “Normalcy.”
In the Winter 2018 term, the special topic for HLTD47 is Advanced Rehabilitation Sciences: Disability Studies and Lived Experiences of “Normalcy.” This course builds on HLTC17 and examines rehabilitation from the perspectives of researchers, clinicians, and clients. It focuses on the historical role of rehabilitation, not only in improving health, but also in perpetuating the goal of “normalcy.” It also explores the field of disability studies and its critical engagement with the message that disabled people “need to be repaired.” Prerequisite: HLTC17H3 (Introduction to Rehabilitation Sciences)

HLTD50H3 S, Special Topics in Health Humanities - Toronto's Stories of Health and Illness
In the Winter 2018 term, the special topic for HLTD50 is Toronto's Stories of Health and Illness. In this advanced seminar we will be looking specifically at stories of health, illness, and ability that are in some way located in Toronto - whether by setting, or origins of the artist, and so on. This course will include a significant digital element and we will be making use of the UTSC Library's MakerSpace (3D printing and Creative Cloud); in short, lots of arts-based and creative engagement with health issues anchored by a strong sense of what it means to be healthy or sick in our city. Prerequisite: HLTB50 and 3 completed credits at the C-level.\


Fall 2017

HLTC47H3 F, Special Topics in Health Studies - Innovations in Global Health - Counts towards the Health Policy (Arts) Majors

In the Fall 2017 term, the Special Topic for HLTC47 is Innovations in Global Health. This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the role of technological and social innovations in global health.  Through lectures, case studies, group projects and exciting guest lectures, students will gain an understanding of the process of developing and scaling technological and social innovations in low- and middle-income countries, taking into account the unique socio-cultural, financial and logistical constraints that are present in such settings. Furthermore, students will develop the necessary aptitude and perspective needed to evaluate and navigate the myriad of challenges in taking such global health innovations to scale.

HLTD21H3 F, Special Topics in Health - Commercialization of Health Research
In the Fall 2017 term, the special topic for HLTD21 is Commercialization of Health Research. This course will take as its main premise that we are in the midst of a fundamental and revolutionary change – one that will profoundly affect almost every structure in our economy and society. It involves the transition from a resource- and manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Knowledge is now a commodity – one that can be packaged, bought and sold just like any other commodity – and this is nowhere more evident than in health research. We will explore the idea that perhaps in no other industry have science and business been as tightly interwoven as they have become in heath. In many other areas science is a tool or input for creating new products or services. But it is not the business. Heath is different. It has spawned a whole new area – biotechnology. And in biotechnology science is the business.

HLTD12H3 F, Special Topics in Health - Sleep: Structure, Function, and Pathology
In the Fall 2017 term, the special topic for HLTD12 is Sleep: Structure, Function, and Pathology. Sleep is a universal, carefully regulated physiologic process. Disturbed sleep has deleterious consequences for the brain, and consequently all bodily systems. This course will examine the process of sleep, why it’s important, sleep disorders and their causes and impacts, the function of dreaming, how polysomnography works, and what happens when you go to a sleep clinic. HLTB22 is strongly recommended preparation for this course.

HLTD48H3 F, Special Topics in Health Studies: Current Issues in Global Health - HIV/AIDS in Global Perspective: Vulnerabilities, Policies, and Interventions
In the Fall 2017 term, the special topic for HLTD48 is HIV/AIDS in Global Perspective: Vulnerabilities, Policies, and Interventions. Low-income nations suffer disproportionately from the AIDS pandemic. This course will examine the factors that make people vulnerable to HIV globally, including gender inequality, labor migration, resource extraction, and other local and global economic factors. It will also examine HIV prevention policies and strategies, and the complexities of trying to make antiretrovirals universally available.

HLTD49H3 F, Global Health Governance: Thinking Alongside the World's Leaders 
This advanced seminar course explores contemporary topics in global health governance as they are being discussed and debated by world leaders at key international summits, such as the World Health Summit. After developing an understanding of the historical and political economy context of the main actors and instruments involved in global health governance, contemporary global health challenges are explored. Topics and cases change based on global priorities and student interests, but can include: the impact of international trade regimes on global health inequities; the role transnational corporations and non-governmental organizations play in shaping the global health agenda; the impact globalization has had on universal health care and health human resources in low-income countries; and health care during complex humanitarian crises.