2021 PCJ Student Conference: The Changing Landscape of Global Health: Unpacking the Dimensions of Health Crises and Responses in a COVID-19 World

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Friday, February 26th, 2021

Friday, February 26, 202110:00AM - 4:00PMOnline Event, Online Event
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The 15th annual Peace, Conflict and Justice Student Conference will unpack the global responses to and implications of COVID-19 through four interdisciplinary dimensions. The conference will feature a range of academics, professionals, and student speakers from the University of Toronto and the wider community.

The conference will kick off with a keynote address from Dr. Peter Singer, Special Advisor to the Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization.

More information about the four forums and speakers can be found below.

Keynote Address: 10:00 – 10:20
Dr. Peter Singer, Special Advisor to the Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization.

Forum #1: 10:20 – 11:20 – Policy Change and Management in a Globalized World
Dr. Joy Fitzgibbon, Director of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program at Trinity College
Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Sudan
Dr. Fiona Miller, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Second-Year PCJ Students, Nivaal and Maryam Rehman

Forum #2: 11:20 – 12:20 – Economic Implications
Dr. Wilson Prichard, International Centre for Tax and Development
Pedro Antunes, The Conference Board of Canada
Adam Zendel, UofT Department of Geography and Planning
Fourth-Year PCJ Student, Ally Johnston

Forum #3: 1:20 – 2:20 – Injustice and Instability in the Healthcare System
Dr. Anna Banerji, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Dr. Michael Widener, UofT Department of Geography and Planning
Dr. Asem Lashin, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Health Science Centre
Dr. Patrick Fafard, UOttawa Faculty of Public and International Affairs

Forum #4: 2:20 – 3:20 – Human and Social Response
Dr. Karen Naimer, Physicians for Human Rights
Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond, National Black Social Justice Coalition
Dr. Nicholas Spence, UofT Department of Sociology
Second-Year PCJ Student, Atharv Agrawal
Second-Year PCJ Student, Abhay Singh Sachal
Third-Year PCJ Student, Ruth Masuka
Third-Year UofT Student, Aishwarya Patel

Forum Descriptions

Instability and Injustice in the Healthcare System:

The Instability and Injustice in the Healthcare System Forum examines ways in which pre-existing inequities in the healthcare system have been exasperated by the pandemic. The forum takes up this issue by employing health geographies, addressing healthcare policies and possibilities, as well as speaking from frontline and firsthand experience. The goal of the forum is to demonstrate how minority groups, specifically Indigenous populations, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in terms of higher rates of pre-existing illness, as well as ongoing lack of access to healthcare infrastructure.

Economic Implications Forum:

The Economic Implications Forum focuses on how COVID-19 has impacted Canada financially. Our discussions will include the impact on Canadians individually, particularly on students and workers in precarious fields. Our speakers will also provide insight into Canada’s financial response to COVID, fiscal policy, and future trajectory of our economy.

Policy Change and Management in the Globalized World:

The Policy Change and Management in the Globalized World Forum covers a range of topics pertaining to how COVID-19 has impacted health and social policy in Canada and abroad. The forum explores how the pandemic has impacted access to education and the challenges that this has posed for policymakers. In addition, it analyzes the distribution of vaccines and testing materials in Canada and how this process will impact healthcare in the long-term. Finally, the forum discusses challenges in containing the spread of the virus, providing insight into how global solidarity can be built through healthcare and social policy.

Human and Social Response:

The Human and Social Response Forum focuses on student and social life and changes in the quality of life brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses student responses to the pandemic and how students have coped with change and uncertainty. The forum also examines local community and international responses and changes in social structure. Finally, the forum explores the development of a “new norm,” while considering the complexities of human behaviour.

Speaker Bios

Keynote: Dr. Peter Singer
Dr. Peter Singer is Special Advisor to the Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization. He supports the Director General to transform WHO into an Organization sharply focused on impact at the country level. Dr Singer co-chaired the transition team; was the architect of WHO’s strategy and its “triple billion” target; supports colleagues to guide consistent strategy implementation of WHO’s programme budget, results framework, delivery stock-takes, investment case, and innovation strategy; and provides leadership to the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Wellbeing to strengthen collaboration among 13 multilateral agencies to accelerate the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
Before joining WHO, Dr. Peter Singer co-founded two innovative, results driven, social impact organizations. From 2008-2018 Singer was Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. From 1996-2006 he was Sun Life Financial Chair and Director of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics. He is also Professor of Medicine at University of Toronto.
In 2007, Dr. Singer received the Michael Smith Prize as Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year in Population Health and Health Services. In 2011, Singer was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to health research and bioethics, and for his dedication to improving the health of people in developing countries. As a researcher, Dr. Singer published over 300 articles, received over $50 million in research grants, and mentored hundreds of students. He studied internal medicine at University of Toronto, medical ethics at University of Chicago, public health at Yale University, and management at Harvard Business School. He served his community as Board Chair of Branksome Hall, an internationally minded school for girls.

Injustice and Instability in the Healthcare System

1. Anna Banerji
Dr. Anna Banerji is a pediatric, infectious, tropical disease, and global health specialist. She is currently an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She is the faculty lead for Indigenous and Refugee Health, as well as the creator of the Indigenous Health Conference at the University of Toronto. In 2012, she received the Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in tracking respiratory syncytial virus across Northern Canada, noting specifically the virus’s disproportionate impacts on Inuit children.

2. Michael Widener
Dr. Michael Widener is a Canada Research Chair in Transportation and Health and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. He has a cross-appointment in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He is a member of the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute where he serves as co-chair of the Health and Transportation subcommittee. Dr. Widener’s research examines themes of access to healthy food and healthcare facilities, as well as health and transportation geographies. His research interests also include GIS, agent-based modelling, and spatial optimization.

3. Asem Lashin
Dr. Asem Lashin is a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and an oncology-hematology specialist. He has been a front-line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Health Science Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His work currently focuses on the neonatal intensive care unit as he completes his new subspecialty in neonatology. His insights will discuss the challenges of working with the most vulnerable groups of patients — premature babies — during the pandemic.

4. Patrick Fafard
Dr. Patrick Fafard is a Full Professor at the University of Ottawa in the Department of Social Sciences. He is an Associate Director at the University of Ottawa’s Global Strategies Lab and a member at the university’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy. He has served as the Director General in the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat of the Privy Council Office and has held the role of Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Commission on Medicare, as well as the Executive Director of Policy and Planning in the Saskatchewan Department of Health. His research interests include public health policy, the social determinants of health, health services, global health, and ethics and health.

Economic Implications

1. Adam Zendel
Mr. Adam Zendel is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Geography and Planning Department and a researcher for the Cultural Economy Lab. Mr. Zendel’s doctoral research explores elements of labour geographies pertaining to touring musicians and crew members. He is currently working on an article exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on the live music industry, with a focus on the experiences of musicians and crew members. He will be sharing his findings during our panel, along with knowledge on other issues COVID-19 is posing on cities and workers more broadly.

2. Pedro Antunes
Mr. Pedro Antunes is the Chief Economist and primary spokesperson at The Conference Board of Canada. Mr. Antunes provides expert testimony before parliamentary and senate committees. He has contributed notable research on the impact of Canada’s demographic change on labour markets, the fiscal sustainability of health care, productivity, and long-term economic growth. He will be joining our panel to provide insight on Canadian fiscal policy and long-term responses to COVID-19. Mr. Antunes’ work can be accessed at the Conference Board of Canada’s research database.

3. Wilson Prichard
Dr. Wilson Prichard is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, the Chief Executive Officer of International Center for Tax and Development, and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Department of Political Science. His research and expertise notably address the question of taxation and development, including government revenues, state-building and accountability, and the political foundations of development. Dr. Prichard will be joining our panel to speak on how Canada might pay for the response to COVID-19, guided by the stronger-than-ever argument for expanding taxation for the wealthiest sectors of our economy. His insights will focus on possible policy responses.

4. PCJ Student, Ally Johnston
Ally Johnston is a fourth-year Peace, Conflict and Justice student at the University of Toronto. She has been a member of the G7 Research Group for three years, researching and analyzing compliance. In 2020, Ally participated in a study exchange program at Sciences Po, where she studied economics. This past summer, she also worked at a data consulting firm. During the panel, Ally will be discussing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program.

Policy Change and Management in a Globalized World

1. Abdullah Fadil
Mr. Abdullah Fadil is currently a UNICEF Representative in Sudan. He has been the Director for the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for Syria and the Deputy Head of Mission and Chief of Staff for the Joint Mission in Syria. Mr. Fadil has also served as the Chief of Human Resources Officer, Head of Office, and Chief Mission Support in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. He has over twenty years of expertise in addressing disputes related to political analysis, diplomacy, strategic planning, and conflict resolution in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His focus is on the complexity of peacekeeping, peace-building and conflict and post-conflict countries.

2. Fiona Miller
Dr. Fiona Miller is a Professor of Health Policy and the Chair in Health Management Strategies at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. She is affiliated with the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics, the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment, the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation’s Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability, and the Sustainable Built Environment Performance Assessment Network. Her current research interests examine the development of health technologies and their adoption, with a specific focus on the role of institutions.

3. Dr. Joy Fitzgibbon
Dr. Fitzgibbon is Associate Director and Assistant Professor in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program. She is a Fellow of Trinity College and a Senior Fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History. Joy’s research focuses on solutions to governance dilemmas in global health pandemics, including COVID-19, and on violence against women in conflict zones. She has served as a governance and policy advisor on the board of Food for the Hungry Canada, lectured in the International Paediatric Emergency Medicine Elective and in the Canadian Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program and submitted policy reports to the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament and the then Canadian International Development Agency.

4. PCJ Students, Maryam and Nivaal Rehman
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman are twin activists and co-founders of The World With MNR, a non-profit organization that takes action for climate justice, gender equality, and inclusivity. In 2019, they released a documentary on girls’ education in Pakistan and screened it globally and at the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative’s 20th anniversary celebrations. They have conducted interviews with Malala Yousufzai, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde. For their activism, they have received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, now the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Human and Social Response

1. Karen Naimer
Ms. Karen Naimer is currently the Director of Programs for the not-for-profit non-governmental organization, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). In this role, Ms. Naimer oversees all activities within PHR’s program division. Her oversight includes research, investigations, asylum, capacity development, and advocacy-related projects. She also supervises initiatives ranging from PHR’s U.S. Asylum Network to international programs focusing on documenting and responding to sexual violence in conflict zones and mass killings.

2. Nicholas Spence
Dr. Nicholas Spence is a member of the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Center for Health and Society at the University of Toronto. Dr. Spence’s research focuses on social inequality and the multiple determinants of health and well-being. He is affiliated with the Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium and Senior Editor of the International Indigenous Policy Journal.

3. Kia Darling-Hammond
Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond is the Director of Education Programs and Research for the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and same gender loving people. She has distinguished herself as a thought leader and collaborator in the worlds of youth service, education, mental health, well-being, and social justice research, with more than twenty years of experience as an administrator, researcher, teacher, and mentor. Dr. Darling-Hammond’s scholarship explores the possibilities for thriving among young adults who experience complex marginalization.

4. Abhay Singh Sachal
Abhayjeet (Abhay) Singh Sachal is a humanitarian, environmentalist, and activist. After a trip to the Arctic in 2016, Abhay co-founded Break The Divide Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects youth around the world with one another. Based on principles of environmentalism, sustainability, and reconciliation, Break The Divide focuses on fostering empathy and understanding to inspire action projects in communities. Abhay was recently named one of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists and featured as one of 10 International Youth Changemakers in Canada.

5. Atharv Agrawal
Atharv Agrawal is a socioeconomic empowerment and inclusion activist and Lester B. Pearson International Scholar. He has worked as a student consultant at IBM Canada’s Pro Bono Initiative, where he engaged with local non-profits to tackle business challenges. Currently, Atharv is a member of Global Spark, a nationwide non-profit, where he is spearheading their podcast entitled CC: World; a student researcher at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy; and an executive member of the Hart House Debates and Dialogue Committee.

6. Aishwarya (Arya) Patel
Aishwarya is an incoming third-year student at the University of Toronto pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Comprehensive Studies as a pianist and composer, a minor in Political Science, and two certificates in Health Applications in Music and Music Technology. Throughout the summer of 2020, Aishwarya interviewed students, designed the layout, and created illustrations for the COVID-19 Perspectives book, a project sponsored through the University of Toronto’s 2020 COVID-19 Student Engagement Award. The powerful cadences of personal growth that Aishwarya has gained from her experiences living in Zimbabwe, Canada, and the United States have resonated with her and cultivated the roots of her desire to give back to the community.

7. Ruth Masuka
Ruth Masuka is a third-year Peace, Conflict and Justice student at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses centre around art as a bottom-up peacebuilding mechanism. She studies the ways in which non-institutional community spaces and informal activities act as catalysts for civil enfranchisement.

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