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Ethics, Society & Law Stream

Trinity One’s Ethics, Society and Law (ES&L) stream introduces first year students to some of the most urgent issues of our time. The goal of the stream is to encourage students to explore the moral and ethical assumptions that inform our social, legal, and political institutions.

This stream employs an interdisciplinary approach: students will be asked to examine texts across the social sciences and humanities, including legal and political philosophy, social and economic theory, case law, and even short stories, newspaper articles, and blog posts. Students are able to develop diverse perspectives that enable them to navigate the theoretical complexities of social issues while also thinking generatively about how these issues may be resolved.

By familiarizing students with many foundational texts, this stream provides an excellent basis for further study in a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.


Students in the ES&L stream must enrol in two Trinity One seminars in their first year: TRN171Y1 Ethics and the Public Sphere and TRN172Y1: Ethics and the Law. Each of these courses amounts to 1.0 FCE and will continue throughout the fall and winter semesters. These credits will account for 2.0 credits of the typical 5.0 credit load in first year.


Students who complete the Ethics, Society and Law stream are well-equipped to pursue further studies in a vast array of academic disciplines. Students may apply concepts and analytical tools learned in the ES&L stream to studies in the sciences, social sciences or humanities.

Students may decide to continue their studies in this particular field with the University of Toronto’s Ethics, Society and Law program, hosted by Trinity College. Note that completion of TRN171 and TRN172 can count towards admissions requirements to the ES&L program, as well as credits within the program itself once you have been accepted.

Students interested in continuing to think practically and theoretically about ethical questions often choose to study Philosophy, Political Science, or the Munk School’s program in Peace, Conflict and Justice.

Students interested in applying questions of theory to matters of public concern often continue their studies in Public Policy at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, which offers both an undergraduate major in Public Policy and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree.


Your stream mentors will support you throughout the academic year by hosting workshops and activities to assist you with course assessments and to facilitate community building. They will be your first point of contact should you have any academic concerns or questions about student life! Meet your stream mentors below!

Garyn Rickwood

Program(s) of Study: Ethics, Society & Law (Major), Criminology and Sociolegal Studies (Major)
Hometown: Brantford, ON
College: Trinity College

Bio: Garyn (she/her) is a second-year student who had a fantastic experience in the Ethics, Society & Law stream. She really enjoyed the seminar-style classes as it allowed her to get to know her professors, classmates, and course material really well. The program helped Garyn develop her critical thinking skills, writing, and confidence in the classroom. She is looking forward to furthering her studies in Ethics, Society & Law, as well as Criminology and Sociolegal Studies. She hopes to eventually become a human rights and constitutional lawyer. Garyn welcomes you all to UofT and Trinity One, and is very excited to meet you this year! Feel free to reach out to chat about anything, academic-related or not! Outside of class, you can find Garyn volunteering with the Trinity College Volunteer Society, working as social media coordinator of Trinity Against Sexual Assault and Harassment Club and Amnesty International UofT, playing intramural soccer and hockey, and working out at Goldring. She also enjoys playing piano, thrifting, listening to Childish Gambino and funk & soul, watching crime documentaries, Stranger Things and Heart Stopper, and exploring new restaurants.

Jessica Wang

Program(s) of Study: Ethics, Society and Law (Major), Drama (Major), English (Minor)
Hometown: Kowloon, Hong Kong / Markham, ON
College: Trinity College

Bio: Jessica recalls her time in TrinOne as a highlight in her first year. Through courses in the ES&L stream, Jessica witnessed significant improvement in her writing, speaking, notetaking, and critical thinking skills. Moreover, she is grateful to have formed meaningful bonds with her peers and professors, and she believes this to be the best part of being in the TrinOne program. Aside from ES&L, Jessica is active in the performing arts community. Her involvements include participation in UofT campus theatre, studying Drama, and teaching at a dance school. Jessica hopes to pursue a career in education, focusing on providing a diverse curriculum and promoting inclusivity in the classroom. She would be happy to answer questions about school and academics, introduce you to different opportunities in the arts, or listen to you talk about anything you wish.



Hear from graduates of the Trinity One program – Ethics, Society & Law stream!

Katherine Delay | 2020

Katherine Delay, who graduated from UofT in 2022, completed the ES&L stream in her first year.

I loved my time in Trinity One. While the materials were initially a bit daunting, I found myself embedded in a close-knit community. I was able to build relationships with both my professors and my peers. In fact, I met some of my best friends in Trinity One. The COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning really showed me how valuable that network I built for myself in first year was. One thing that sticks out to me at the beginning of the pandemic was the support that my Trinity One professors offered us. They were so understanding about how we were feeling and altered assignment structures and deadlines accordingly. They also offered additional office hours to us if we wanted to come by and chat about things that were worrying us. I’ll always remember that care, especially considering our profs were probably also experiencing the same anxieties. I would not have been able to succeed in online courses, or in my courses generally, without the friendship and care of my friends, family, and roommates. A lot of those people were folks I met in Trinity One or in Trinity College residence. I am super grateful that I had the opportunity to embed myself in those smaller communities given the sheer size of UofT. I had always thought about attending law school or working in the legal field in some capacity, and participating in the Ethics, Society and Law stream exposed me to many flaws in our socio-legal system and the many possibilities for reform. As such, my time in the ES&L stream influenced my decision to major in ES&L and, eventually, my decision to work in policy analysis for Manitoba’s Department of Health after graduation. I still hope to pursue a Masters in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and, then, a law degree, but my courses in the ES&L stream showed me that there are many possible approaches to working within legal frameworks.

Samantha Melsom | 2016

Samantha Melsom, a 2019 UofT graduate, who completed the ES&L stream in first year.

The Trinity One Ethics stream was a highlight of my time as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, as it helped me with the transition into university, as well as provided me with skills and relationships I still have today. I looked forward to my Trinity One seminars every week as they were small classes which were highly engaging, heavily discussion based, and focused on what I was interested in studying while at university. I was able to meet like-minded students with similar interests to me, and I was able to create friendships which I will carry with me long past my time in university. Due to the small class size I was able to develop personal relationships with my professors starting in first-year, which I was able to build throughout my undergrad. My professors in Trinity One provided me with tools that allowed me to succeed in my undergrad, through providing feedback and advice on my writing, and helping me work through and build on the course material and questions that arose. I was required to critically analyze the course material as well as my own writing and thoughts, which allowed me to achieve academic accomplishments I thought were beyond my abilities. Trinity One solidified and confirmed interests I held, as well as introduced new interests and areas to pursue academically and professionally. In my undergrad I studied a double major in Bioethics and Ethics, Society, and Law. I am starting at Ryerson University in the fall to pursue my Master of Arts in Criminology and Social Justice and will be applying to law school this fall. My research interests and what I hope to continue studying during my Master’s, as well as what I hope to pursue professionally, were sparked in my first-year in Trinity One. I was introduced to differing concepts of justice, the impact and implications of our criminal justice system, as well as the marginalization and lack of access to our criminal justice system and institutions of certain communities and groups. I am grateful to Trinity One for introducing me to these concepts so early in my academic career and providing me with confidence and skills both academically and personally that I will continue to carry with me.

Contact Us:

Susan He
Program Coordinator, Margaret MacMillan Trinity One


Have a question? Ask a mentor!