2010-2011: Aravind Eye Institute

2010-2011 challenge

Students focused on India’s Aravind Eye Hospital and its efforts to expand its model into other parts of the Global South and even industrial societies. They analyzed what lessons could be learned from social, economic, political and technological perspectives, and how these lessons could be shared with other resource-constrained societies. Led by mentors from the Asian Institute and University of Toronto’s graduate and undergraduate programs, teams of six to eight students worked in a distributed learning model to share readings and online and face-to-face discussions. For April’s symposium, their teams identified and “pitched” their preferred approach to addressing the problem of scalability as seen through this case study. The symposium took place at the Munk School and featured a panel of experts in the health and development field.

The work of the project was fully integrated across the many fields and disciplines involved in such a complex problem. The students read and grappled with everything from academic research papers to news clippings, from sophisticated demographic materials to the personal stories of those directly connected to the Aravind Hospital and its work. They struggled with real-world problems through multi-disciplinary lenses. They learned about advocacy, empathy and other-regarding global citizenship. They, along with their U of T mentors, received no credit for their work, other than the gratification of studying a pressing problem which has not yet been resolved, together generating solutions that can potentially better the lives of hundreds of millions in the world’s “bottom billion.”

U of T’s Peter Singer, the CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, summed it up best when he concluded his January talk with the following observation: “So I just want to end by saying how humbled I am to be with you, because you’re going to solve this problem. And what you’re learning, reflecting on and doing in your project here is going to help solve the program. You’re focused on something extraordinarily important. Not just to provide better care in the developed world and innovate there, but also to solve some of the problems your neighbours are facing ... Good on you and good luck; what you’re doing is extraordinarily important and is itself innovative.”


session videos

Lessons from Aravind
Dr. Ken Bassett
Senior Medical Consultant, UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research
>view seminar webcast

The Health of Humankind – 2050
Dr. Anita M. McGahan
Associate Dean of Research, Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto
>view seminar webcast

Can Innovation Save Global Health?
Dr. Peter A. Singer
Director, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health and CEO, Grand Challenges Canada
>view seminar webcast

Appropriate Technologies for Global Development
Dr. Yu-Ling Cheng
Director, Centre for Global Engineering; Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto
>view seminar webcast

Final Symposium
Aravind Eye Hospital, April 1, 2011 (view webcast here)
View the Symposium brochure here.


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