York University creates new Faculty of Health

York University will create a unique new Faculty of Health in 2006, designed to respond to the growing need for innovative, interdisciplinary education and research on health.

Right:  York’s new Faculty of Health will include kinesiology and health science among its units, as well as health policy and management, nursing and psychology

The University’s Board of Governors voted yesterday to establish the new Faculty on July 1, bringing several existing disciplines into a broad Faculty of Health. A new Chair will be established, to be held by the dean of the new Faculty, once appointed to the position in the spring. This Chair will be supported by some of the funds from the sale of the Southlands. All proceeds from the 2002 land sale are earmarked for academic purposes.

“Our understanding of health is constantly evolving. The new Faculty of Health is an important part of York’s vision for the future, providing new opportunities for York to lead in the field of health care in Canada,” said Marshall Cohen, Chair of York’s Board of Governors. “The new Chair is a significant investment that will ensure that we are able to attract dynamic leadership to this faculty now and in the future.”

Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York, said the new Faculty of Health signals the University’s long-term commitment to health as a focus of teaching and scholarship. “This is a milestone in York’s history,” said Marsden. “We are already responding to the health needs of Canadians, through the excellent health research being conducted here. By bringing many of our health researchers and practitioners together under one new Faculty we will foster pioneering work and make York even more attractive to leading scholars.”

Faculty members and students from the following academic units will make up the new Faculty of Health: kinesiology and health science, health policy and management, nursing and psychology.

In the new Faculty, “interdisciplinary” will mean more than the linking of health specialties. It will include exposure to a range of disciplinary perspectives on health, from the sciences, social sciences, nursing, management and administration, humanities and informatics.

Left: The new Faculty will address subjects ranging from the social dimensions of health, to public policy on health care delivery, to improved clinical interventions

“Students and the professionals who work in the health sector are clamouring to break down the barriers between disciplines,” said Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic at York. “York University – which is already a leader in interdisciplinary education – is responding to this growing demand. This new environment will offer opportunities for research based on an integrated model of health, and will generate new multidisciplinary approaches to health and health care.”

According to Embleton, it is rare that a new faculty is created at a university. In fact, most new faculties have been created when a larger faculty was split into two, or an existing professional school joined a university. “This is very different. In this case we are bringing several academic units under one umbrella with a vision to respond to a broad and changing definition of health. York’s Faculty of Health will address subjects ranging from the social dimensions of health, to public policy on health care delivery, to improved clinical interventions,” she said.

A variety of methods for studying health and social phenomena will be used in the new Faculty, ranging from experimental and epidemiological techniques to clinical case studies, oral histories and ethnographic observation. Research will focus not only on hospitals and clinics but communities, homes, farms, schools, factories and the global economic environment.

The new Faculty of Health will promote interdisciplinary work with researchers in other faculties. In addition, specialized, interdisciplinary health programs will be developed by the Faculty at the undergraduate and graduate levels, or as certificate courses.

The type of programs envisioned might include critical studies in the political economy of health, health promotion and population health, international and global health, applied health science, gerontological health, health psychology, and the history of health.