“Aspire, Inspire, and Transform” – CPHA UW Alumni Lunch (2010-06-15)

Had an opportunity to attend an alumni event hosted by the University of Waterloo (UW). Apparently this is the first time event for Health Studies & Gerontology alumni. This event was taking place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto during the Canadian Public Health Association’s (CPHA) Centennial Conference.

It was great to catch-up with a mentor of mine, Dr. Paul McDonald and to learn about some of the developments at UW. That’s him below, speaking to the group in the Pinnacle Room (the Pinnacle Room has a great view of Nathan Phillips Square and of Toronto in general).


[Dr. Paul McDonald speaking to Health Studies alumni in the Pinnacle Room]

It was interesting to get immersed in public health – it’s been a while since I’ve been in this space as I’ve spent the past few years looking at ehealth, evaluation, innovation, and health systems. The main purpose of the alumni event was twofold:

  1. To establish and develop a network of Health Studies graduates and alumni
  2. To announce the plans to create a new School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.

Creating an alumni and graduate network is pretty straight-forward, but something that’s probably long overdue. I think the hope is harness some of the network effects of having a group of connected people who are working within the health care space in Canada.

In terms of the school of public health and health systems, this is something that is pretty interesting. Building upon the history of innovation at UW, the goal is to create something that is “very different from other schools in the country” and will be guided by the needs of policy and decision makers across Canada and abroad. Plans are underway for different types of programs and training opportunities. I’m intrigued by the “health systems” piece as I wholeheartedly agree with Christensen, Hwang, and Grossman who call for system innovation in health care in their book The Innovator’s Prescription.

One last bit of news. As part of the effort to create a new school at UW, a bit of re-branding is going on with the Department of Health Studies & Gerontology (HS&G) and also with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (AHS). Health Studies was the first transdisciplinary health program in the world, created in 1976 in response to the groundbreaking Lalonde report titled “A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians” published in 1974. In keeping with the tradition of trying to be more relevant to the mission of “improving health and well-being”, the new catch-phrase is “Aspire, Inspire, and Transform”. I like the phrase as it seems to capture the character of AHS and of UW in general.

Best of luck with the effort to create the new school. I know I’ll be following the developments.



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