Room 179, University College, 15 King’s
  • January 23, 2014 (all day)

Thursday, January 23, 2014 4:10:00 PM – Thursday, January 23, 2014 6:00:00 PM
Rm. UC 179, University College, 15 King's College Circle
Environment & Health Seminar

SARAH WAKEFIELD, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto

ABSTRACT: More than ever, planners and public health practitioners are using broad, policy-based interventions to alter the physical and social environments where we live, work and play, with the end goal of enhancing public health. In these contexts, however, health equity is rarely a top-of-mind concern. Drawing on two case studies – a pesticide bylaw in Toronto and a community garden bylaw in Hamilton, Ontario – this seminar will illustrate how an environmental justice framework can be used to evaluate the extent to which healthy public policy initiatives are able to contribute to health equity. Results suggest that, while public health may be increased overall by broad, policy-based interventions, a lack of explicit attention to difference and marginalization in the development of these policies can in fact lead to greater health inequality in communities. The presentation concludes with a discussion of how greater inter-departmental and community collaboration in policy development, as well as the more routine application of an environmental justice lens, could lead to the development of policy that more effectively mitigates the ill effects of the inequitable distribution of environmental and other resources.

BRIEF BIO: Sarah Wakefield is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Program in Planning at the University of Toronto; she is also the Director of the Health Studies Program in University College, and the Chair of the Social Sciences, Humanities and Education Research Ethics Board. Her research has two main themes: (1) food security policy and practice; and (2) improving neighbourhood health through participatory community development and community-based research. These areas are connected by an overarching interest in understanding how individuals and organizations work together to create just, healthy, and sustainable communities. She works closely with community organizations and health policy actors to enhance the relevance of her research.