New course is a model of Glendon’s multidisciplinary education

There is a new course at Glendon this academic year that highlights the multidisciplinary nature of Glendon’s liberal arts education. It is taught by Charles-Antoine Royer (left), a graduate of Glendon and York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Titled “Communication, Health and Environment”, the full-year course intertwines three distinct areas of study. It is offered in the first year of Glendon’s Environmental and Health Studies Program and is part of the Multidisciplinary Studies Department. Rouyer presents a variety of topics that he calls a “buffet”, which on closer examination connect – allowing students at all levels to get a taste of different disciplines before choosing to focus on any specific one. The course also covers their interrelationships, particularly with respect to key health determinants and urban sustainability.

Rouyer’s personal take is that the fields cannot be separated because they have overlapping aspects and implications. As an example, the definition of “health”, according to the World Health Organization, is that it can be physical, social or mental. The Faculty of Environmental Studies teaches that “environment” pertains to natural, social, urban and economic spheres. And “communication” may occur through the various media, or person to person.

Rouyer brings a wealth of formal qualifications and hands-on experience to his teaching, both in the field of the environment and in the area of communication. As an exchange student from Bordeaux, France, he first came to Glendon in 1984. He went back to France and applied for landed immigrant status, returning in 1989 to Glendon and eventually completing an Hons. BA in Economics, with a minor in psychology. He went on to a Masters in Environmental Studies at York, focusing on the “Healthy Cities” concept, a World Health Organization program.

“At present, I see multidisciplinary studies as a ‘jack of all trades’ and [hopefully] ‘master of connecting the dots’,” he says. “The connections among different areas of study are important to make. Each field of study is often compared with individual silos, isolated from each other. I feel that this is partly why we are experiencing the current environmental problems and why we need a more holistic, multidisciplinary approach to these issues, in order to foster a healthier world and a better quality of life for all.”

Rouyer took his first steps in journalism as an undergraduate at Glendon, writing for ProTem, the student newspaper. This first publishing experience led him to write for L’Express de Toronto, one of the city’s French-language newspapers, while taking evening courses in journalism at Ryerson. Currently, he is still contributing regularly to L’Express, Radio-Canada (Toronto) and TfO, Ontario’s French television station. HIs  work as a journalist concentrates on urban health, sustainable cities, urban ecology and ecotourism. On March 16, he will be making the introductory remarks at the York Faculty of Environmental Studies lecture by prominent sustainability author and lecturer Bob Willard on the next sustainability wave.

He brings his experience to the classroom in all three areas of the Communication, Health and Environment course. In the field of communication, he strives to develop his students’ media literacy and focuses on raising their awareness of current issues. “I encourage them to question the content of what the news media present,” says Rouyer. 

“In my role of journalist or broadcaster, I see myself as a content or information manager. But working in these fields is like putting a message in a bottle. You send it out, but you have no idea who opens the bottle and reads the message,” adds Rouyer. “When I teach, I can ‘pop the cork’ myself, give the message directly and get the feedback right away – it’s a two-way communication. It gives me the opportunity to get to know the upcoming generation and contribute to raising the awareness of future decision-makers.”

Rouyer’s article on Urban Health and Healthy Cities appears on the web site of the Canadian Health Network (in English and in French).

This article was submitted to YFile by Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer.