NATS 1605: Field Trips Help Students Understand Healthy Public Policy

 Photo: City of Toronto

Photo: City of Toronto

Before winter creeps up on us, now is the best time to revel in all the joys of Autumn. Pumpkins, sweaters, hot cocoa, and colourful trees are all around, and what better place to experience that fall atmosphere than by taking a trek to one of Glendon’s hidden gems: The Glendon Forest.

I recently had the chance to accompany Professor Charles-Antoine Rouyer on his annual field trip to the Glendon Forest. He teaches the first year introductory course, NATS/SOSC 1605: Communication, Health and Environment. My time in the forest reignited my love for this beautiful well-kept secret and sparked an interest in the course itself. Professor Rouyer is a Glendon alumni and former student contributor for Pro Tem. His main goal in this course is to answer two major questions: What defines a healthy public policy? Does the media play a part in undertaking healthier public policies?

Professor Rouyer’s approach is incredibly multidisciplinary, which is why the course counts as a General Education credit while also being a key course in the Health & Environment Studies program. The Glendon Forest field trip is part of the first module of the course, in which the focus is on watersheds and the water cycle, giving students the opportunity to understand what ecological thinking and “systems thinking” are really about.

The Don river, which runs through our Glendon Forest, is a part of a watershed, and actually helped give Glendon its name; Glen meaning valley, and Glendon thus meaning “valley of the Don.” Trekking through the forest proved to be an incredible way to spend a Friday morning. The first group began their walk at 9am, and the second at 10:30. During the first session, I was surprised to see a salmon in the Don river!

Professor Rouyer told me about the other field trip he took his class on two weeks prior to this one. Each year, the group goes to Brickworks Park, which is behind Evergreen Brick Works, to learn about and see the three constructed wetlands and their benefits for the area.

While these environmental field trips are the focus of the course’s first module, the three other modules explored during the year go well beyond ecology. Module Two focuses on health, with an emphasis on health promotion and prevention. The third module of the course then turns to the communication aspect, exploring the role of news media in the policy making process, and general concepts of media literacy. Having studied at Ryerson, and having worked as a print as well as broadcast journalist, Professor Rouyer is very experienced in the field of journalism and is more than qualified to really open his students’ eyes to the power of the media.

The fourth and final module of the course is based on “natural capital, social capital and economic-financial capital as well as the ecological footprint concept,” as Professor Rouyer explains. Not many profs are as enthusiastic as Professor Rouyer, so I urge you to take the NATS 1605 if you are still in need of a NATS or SOSC general education course.This course is probably one of the most immersive and eye-opening courses you can take at Glendon.