East Common Room, Hart House (7 Hart House Circle), University of Toronto
  • November 18, 2015 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm


Elizabeth Rea (Associate Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health)
Peter Warrian (Senior Research Fellow, Munk School for Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
Catherine Womack (Professor, Department of Philosophy, Bridgewater State University)

Moderator and Discussant: Diego S. Silva (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University)

Click here to register.

Global health is inherently complex, comprising as it does of a myriad of biological and social features. The complexity of health, however, lies not only in the countless ways biology and society – including economic and political forces – interact, but also in the nonlinear, dynamic, and, at times, counter-intuitive manner such factors affect each other. Systems sciences, or systems thinking, study the various parts of a given system and the interactions between these parts. In the last decades, systems thinking has grown from its roots in engineering and math to begin to tackle many complex social problems, including challenges seen in global health and public health. The various systems theories each have assumptions used to conceptualize problems and their potential solutions, including normative assumptions about what ought to be the goals of global health and how to bring them about. To date, the various ethical and political assumptions underlying systems thinking in global health have received little examination, but the tide is changing; at the very least, there is a growing recognition from systems scientists and bioethics scholars about the importance of understanding the values that underpin the various systems of global health and the theories used to make sense of their complexity.

This event is sponsored and hosted by the Comparative Program on Health and Society at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.