Trinity One Health Science and Society Stream

Welcome to the Health Science and Society stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto.

The Health Science and Society stream is targeted towards students in the Life Sciences who are looking to gain a broader understanding of the impact that progress in the Health Sciences is having on society. Novel therapies for a wide range of diseases have become available over the last decades and these have had a major impact on longevity and quality of life. This comes with a cost to society however. From the cost of therapy itself to the consequences of an aging population, future generations of leaders will have to understand and develop policies to balance the needs of the individual with national and international practicalities. The Health Science and Society stream will provide an introduction to these issues in an environment that is intimate, immersive, and interdisciplinary. 


A Broad Introduction

The Health Science and Society stream examines some of the most challenging issues that confront us today. From stem cells and transplantation, to the development of new drugs and clinical treatments, innovative new therapies come with costs that are both financial and social. Stem cells could open up novel therapeutic avenues for many diseases, but are also controversial with some parts of the world banning aspects of stem cell research. The cost of many novel therapies is very high, leading to discussions around how much health care a society can afford. There are enormous challenges associated with all aspects of health care delivery, from the policies required to establish and maintain the Canadian health care system to the challenges associated to making health care available throughout the world. With most health care innovations being discovered in developed countries, there are major political and financial barriers to making these advances available throughout the world.

The Health Science and Society stream is complemented by the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and the School for Public Policy and Governance.

Students enrolled in the Health Science and Society stream of the Trinity One program will typically be students who are looking to graduate with a major or specialist degree from one of the Basic Science Departments of the Faculty of Medicine, such as Immunology, or from the Human Biology program in the Faculty of Arts and Science, potentially combining this with a program in Global Health or International Relations. 


Stream Requirements

The Health Science and Society stream is composed of two full credits of Trinity One seminars (TRN135Y, TRN235H and TRN236H).  Students in this stream enrol in TRN135Y in first year and TRN235H and TRN236H in second year. The two seminar credits in this stream are offered over two years to give students the option of taking, as part of the typical 5.0 credit load in first year, one full credit in math, chemistry, biology and physics in addition to the first-year Trinity One full credit.

First Year:

TRN135Y - Science and Social Choice (One credit)

The focus of this course is on the social consequences of science. Topics such as genes and genetic determinism; evolutionary explanations of behaviour and disease; scientific uncertainty and public communication will be covered. 

Second Year:

TRN235H - Health Policy in Canada: Past, Present and Future (Half credit)

This course explores the nature and impact of public health policy in Canada and describes the origins of Canadian health policy, its evolution towards its current form and the choices resulting from aging populations and the increasing costs associated with a high standard of health care.

TRN236H - The Politics of Global Health (Half credit)

This course explores the nature and impact of policy relationships designed to improve global public health. The course will explore the analytical tools necessary to study these institutional arrangements and examine successes and failures of these policy relationships across a range of global health policy challenges including infectious disease and child health.


An Intimate, Immersive, and Interdisciplinary Experience

The small-group, discussion-oriented, seminar courses are the heart of the program. They provide a rigorous introduction to the central issues in Health Science and Society through a pedagogical process that allows students and instructors to get to know each other, to work collaboratively, and to develop individual perspectives—benefits deepened by the requirement that students take three classes of this type with the same classmates over two years. Each student is immersed in a rigorous academic endeavour, but also an interpersonal and engaging experience.

Furthermore, the nature of the immersion transcends discipline-based education in that it addresses directly issues of Health Science and Society as an integrally related theme rather than as a series of isolated topics. For example, the study of vaccination is treated in very different ways by immunologists, epidemiologists and experts in health policy and global health. However vaccination is transformative in terms of its impact on human health and that impact provides a remarkable example of how interdisciplinary understanding is required to get the complete picture. Of course, this generalizes to other issues as well, and the program makes the interdisciplinary approach a core value, drawing on the considerable disciplinary resources available at the University of Toronto.

 

Co-curricular Events

Trinity One co-curricular lunches with guest speakers occur about every third Tuesday between noon and 2:00 p.m. at Trinity. Students are encouraged to keep this time slot open.  

The co-curricular events draw upon the rich resources of the University of Toronto's Centre for EthicsSchool of Public Policy and GovernanceMunk School of Global Affairs, and the Faculty of Medicine and the University of Toronto Affiliated Hospitals. These events enable students in all Trinity One streams to meet guest speakers and to engage in informal but high-level conversation with one another, their professors, and guest experts.

Recent Events

Some of the guests who visited the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program during the 2013-14 academic year to discuss their work included the following, each of whom addressed the Trinity One community over lunch and kindly agreed to be interviewed by a faculty member or student.

Michael Ignatieff

Audrey Macklin

Graeme Smith

Natalie Zemon Davis 

Robyn Doolittle 

 

What Instructors Are Saying

The Trinity One pedagogical environment engages students, brings out the best in them, and encourages them to apply themselves. The program is blessed with some of the best incoming undergraduates in the country, something the teaching staff is keenly aware of.
 

Working in a world class research environment at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research puts me in daily contact with renown investigators studying one of the most relevant diseases of the modern era. All of the scientists working at OICR started as undergraduates with an interest in biological science and found institutions in which their dreams could be realised. This course is a wonderful opportunity to work with outstanding students at Trinity College and helping them understand the relationship between science and society and how it will impact their lives.

--Marsela Braunstein teaches TRN135Y Science and Social Choice, and is a lecturer in the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto. Trained at the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto, Dr. Braunstein is an expert in the development of the immune system and is currently a researcher in the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research where she studies the molecular mechanisms underlying drug resistance in breast cancer.

 

The Canadian public health system is the envy of many other countries and has been held up as a model for public health care delivery. This didn’t happen by chance, but by the leadership of forward thinking politicians from across the country. Trinity has a well-deserved reputation for providing a rich environment that encourages leadership among its students. As we move towards the future it is clear that the public health system must continue to evolve and that Canada will benefit from leaders who understand the relationship between health, health care and how this fits with broad public policy.

--Leslie Boehm teaches TRN235H Health Policy in Canada: Past, Present and Future, and is an Adjunct Lecturer in the University of Toronto Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and an Associate of the School of Graduate Studies. As Director of Research Operations and Business Development at the Sunnybrook Research Institute, he oversees the financial aspects of research at Sunnybrook and its translation from the research environment towards application in the clinic, bringing a unique perspective to the theory and practice of Health Policy in Canada.



As someone working in the global health field I am keenly aware that scientific breakthroughs can potentially lead to profound improvements in human health across the planet. That having been said, from my background in international relations I also understand that the implementation of such breakthroughs is not simple, but rather is confounded by the relationships that exist between nations that can limit availability of much needed technologies and therapies. The Politics of Global Health course is a wonderful opportunity for me to explore with an outstanding group of health science students the big picture that future generations of leaders will need to understand.

Teaching in Trinity One is a privilege and a delight. The students are a remarkably gifted community and it is a pleasure to come to know them, to teach them and to watch them grow at this early stage in their professional lives. Trinity One provides foundational
teaching on core concepts in the Social Impact of Health Science taught at an advanced level and pitched in cutting edge ways so that students learn to engage with hot button political challenges through disciplined analysis. This combination provides students with a tool kit to excel in their subsequent university courses: how to think critically, communicate clearly, and listen to each other with civility. The strength of community--that we learn in relationship--is accentuated in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program. We also seek to establish relationships between all the Trinity One streams by establishing ties between the students and scholars in these programs. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity.

--Joy Fitzgibbon teaches TRN236H The Politics of Global Health, and is Deputy Director of the G8 Research Group and a Research Fellow in the Global Health Diplomacy Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College, and an Associate of Trinity College. Her research is situated at the intersection of international relations, public policy and global health, exploring the impact of global networks on policy reform. She has just completed a book on the effectiveness of these networks in managing tuberculosis which analyses improvements in WHO’s TB control policy driven by Harvard’s Partners in Health and Nobel prize winning Médecins Sans Frontières. She is the author of the article “Tackling Tuberculosis and Malaria” (in Russia’s G20 Summit: St Petersburg 2013, Newsdesk 2013) and co-author of Networks of Knowledge (University of Toronto Press, 2001). She has submitted policy reports to CIDA (with Janice Stein) and to the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament and has lectured as faculty in the International Pediatric Emergency Medicine Elective and in the Canadian Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program.
 

Readings in the Health Science and Society Stream

No reading is required before classes begin.

Each instructor will revise his or her syllabus during the summer months and so reading lists will be provided before the end of the summer.