Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research

FAITH XLVII/Detail: Chaos Theory X/Deconstructed atlas, ink, hand sewn tapestry

Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research

The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research is committed to effectiveness, excellence and equity in global health. We conduct research, teach and form partnerships to address 21st century global health challenges. Led by Dr. James Orbinski, our researchers carry out projects in three areas: Global Health & Humanitarianism, Planetary Health and Global Health Foresighting.



Latest Resources



Screenings: Planetary Health Film Lab
Feb 21 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Screenings: Planetary Health Film Lab @ Global Strategy Lab

You are invited to attend a screening of seven short documentaries by emerging international filmmakers who came to Toronto to participate in the Planetary Health Film Lab. The Film Lab took these young filmmakers through an intensive five-day process to create a film which tells a story about the health impacts of climate change.

In addition to honouring the filmmakers, the screening is a starting point to discuss the use of documentary film for climate communication and advocacy, the future of global health storytelling, and the health impacts of climate change.

The event will include a screening of all seven short documentaries before they are shared online and an open discussion with the filmmakers and organizers, who will all be in attendance.

The Filmmakers

This year’s cohort of youth are the workshop’s first. The group includes environmental activists and emerging filmmakers from around the world, including Canada, Australia, Ecuador, Colombia, India, and Italy.

The Films

All films will be included in the Youth Climate Report, a partner program of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They will be featured on the websites of the UNFCCC, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research and the Youth Climate Report.

The Planetary Health Film Lab is a collaboration between the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, Young Lives Research Laboratory and the Youth Climate Report.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Design and Global Health: Embedded Practices, Emerging Ideas
Mar 4 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Design and Global Health: Embedded Practices, Emerging Ideas @ Boardroom, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research

The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research is interested in design for its problem-solving approaches which focus equally on iterative process and concrete outcome; and for the frameworks it offers to understand relationships between form, function, content and context. Design may offer effective means to realise the impact of global health research.

Taking for granted that design in different forms – industrial, systems, thinking, graphic, communication – is already embedded in global health, but that the capacity of global health research to engage deeply with design knowledge is limited, this seminar has two goals. First, by bringing global health and design researchers to the same table, the seminar aims to establish common ground for discussion and discovery between those open to exploring these intersections. Secondly, it aims to present and garner response to emerging ideas on how the Dahdaleh Institute might engage with design moving forward.


Netta Kornberg is the Knowledge Dissemination Strategist at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. She holds an MPhil. at the University of Cambridge, where her dissertation on Namibian literature was the first such project in the university’s history, and an HBA at the University of Toronto. Netta has worked in adult education and public health at York University Faculty of Education, Artists' Health Alliance, South African History Online, and Peoples’ Health Movement South Africa.


Health, Hunger, and Malaria in South Asian History
Mar 11 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Health, Hunger, and Malaria in South Asian History @ Room 626, Kaneff Tower, YorkU Keele Campus

A central role for hunger in the historical mortality burden of malaria in colonial South Asia was commonplace in the sanitary records of nineteenth-century British India. Malaria mortality declined markedly with the control of famine after 1920 – a decline that predated by more than three decades the control of malaria transmission in the region with the mid-1950s DDT-based malaria eradication program.

This experience thus highlights the significance of shifts in the lethality of common endemic infections in relation to food security as a central feature of the region’s rising life expectancy from pre-modern levels – an understanding and epistemic framework that generally has been lost in modern epidemiologic, nutritional, and historiographic thought.

The question of how this understanding was lost has epistemological implications beyond South Asia. They include the importance of reclaiming conceptual distinctions between acute and chronic hunger and an epidemiological approach to hunger and subsistence precarity in health history.


Sheila Zurbrigg obtained her MD degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interest in rural child health led her to India (1974-79), where she helped develop a primary health program in rural Tamil Nadu, working with the traditional village midwives of Ramnad district; this experience led to an analysis of child survival in contemporary India in relation to food security and conditions of women’s work. Her discovery of S.R. Christophers’s 1911 study, Malaria in the Punjab, linking malaria mortality to the price of staple foodgrains, led her to explore more deeply the historical role of hunger in malaria lethality in South Asia, funded as a private scholar by SSHRC. Between 1993 and 2013 she taught part-time at Dalhousie University in the departments of History and International Development Studies. Her most recent historical monograph investigates the epistemic shifts in modern medical and nutritional thought leading to loss of understanding of the role of acute hunger in the region’s malaria mortality history.

Co-presented by the York Centre for Asian Research and the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research.

The Business of Good Intentions: Reframing the Global Health Volunteering Debate
Mar 19 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
The Business of Good Intentions: Reframing the Global Health Volunteering Debate @ York Lanes, Rm 305, YorkU Keele Campus

Co-presented with The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas

Since the mid-2000s, “voluntourism,” or short-term student volunteering abroad, has emerged as an international travel trend, and simultaneously as the subject of heated popular and academic debate. Among aspiring health professionals, student placements in health facilities in the so-called global South are particularly attractive.

In popular and academic debates on hospital voluntourism, one side lauds the perceived positive impact of international volunteers on hosting institutions; the other highlights ethical conundrums and possible harms, some going so far as to depict student volunteers as neocolonial narcissists benefitting more from the experience than hosting communities do.

Drawing on online research and in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Tanzania since 2008, this talk leaves behind polarizing narratives of heroes and villains and instead focuses on the systematic drivers and wider implications of voluntourism to consider how history and economics collude in the for-profit voluntourism industry to seemingly render moral the familiar yet unmarked racialized tropes informing imaginaries of doing good elsewhere.


Noelle Sullivan, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Instruction in Global Health Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She grew up just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where she received a B.A. with Distinction in Anthropology and History. She completed an MA in African and African American Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY (2002), and then an MA (2006) and PhD (2011) in Anthropology from the University of Florida, with a certificate in African Studies.

Dr. Sullivan is a Board Member for the charity Worldview Education and Care. In 2016-2017, she was a Fellow with The Op-Ed Project, which aims to diversify the voices and issues depicted in the media. She is currently a Faculty Fellow with the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University, where she is completing her book on international volunteering in health care settings in Tanzania.


Maggie MacDonald, PhD is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Anthropology, York University. She is a medical anthropologist with research and teaching expertise in women's reproductive health. Dr. MacDonald has conducted long term ethnographic research with global health NGOs and advocates, maternal health NGOs in Senegal, and amongst midwives and their clients in Canada.




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