Research and Teaching Interests

  • Community-based research
  • Mixed-methods research
  • Qualitative research
  • Intersectionality
  • Minority stress
  • Feminist disability studies
  • Sexual, reproductive, and perinatal health
  • Reproductive technologies
  • Disability and health
  • Gender and health
  • LGBTQ health
  • Mental health

The approaches I use in my research greatly inform my teaching. I aim to create a intersectional feminist and social justice-oriented classroom. I encourage students to be reflexive and critical of their own postionalities and the questions that they ask, ultimately challenging students to think beyond their own perspectives and see the world through a different set of assumptions and paradigms. 

Courses I have contributed to at the University of Toronto:

Gender and Health (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto – St. George campus; graduate level; Instructor: Gillian Einstein, PhD)

Gender and Health serves as the Core Course for the Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health and, as such it considers gender and health in the historical context of women’s health. The evolution of the field of Gender and Health from the Women’s Health Movement is considered. The contributions of both sex and gender to health are critically examined and the value of separating and uniting the two, discussed. We consider select topics such as the history of women’s health, sexual differentiation, select diseases and conditions more common in women, evidence based medicine and ignorance, masculine practices in health care seeking, embodiment, and how the social (gender) can become biological (sex). The course aims to foster the development of critical and innovative approaches to the understanding health through a multidisciplinary approach to the literature and by merging the social with the biological

Role: In winter 2015, I worked closely with Dr. Einstein to add new content to this course and gave three guest lectures, including one on intersectionality. I also gave guest lectures in winter 2016 and winter 2017.

“Lesley, I am really hoping you will consider being a resource to me as I begin to read about intersectionality this term. And also, obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to conceive of this project if it wasn’t for the Gender and Health class, so thank you for that, too.” – Student now in a PhD program, 2015

The Politics of Gender and Health (Women & Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto – St. George campus; undergraduate level; Instructor: June Larkin, PhD)

This interdisciplinary course is an introduction to critical concepts and approaches used to investigate and theorize the intersections of gender, health and biomedicine, particularly in the context of women’s lives both locally and transnationally. A key focus is on the politics of power/knowledge at the intersection of medical discourses and various axis of difference, as well as the ways – theoretical and practical – that feminists have responded to medicalization. Drawing on both historical and contemporary material, we will consider the ways medicine has operated as a force for social control that organizes and disciplines populations, primarily through its ability to construct particular bodies as deviant. Using an intersectional analysis we will examine how local and global economies shape women’s health in ways that impact on citizenship, labour, reproduction and other rights-based issues.

Role: I acted as a teaching assistant for this course and did two guest lectures (one in winter 2010 and one in fall 2014) on the topic of biotechnologies and reproductive technologies.

“Lesley, congrats on a great lecture last week. A number of students said it was a great class. You made it so interesting – they really got into it.” – J. Larkin, 2014

Women and Health: Past and Present (Health Studies, University of Toronto – Scarborough campus; undergraduate level; Instructor: Toba Bryant, PhD (fall 2010), Suzanne Sicchia, PhD (summer 2015))

This advanced seminar course applies an intersectional lens to the study of women and health, past and present. A commitment to critical public health that recognizes the importance of the biological, social, economic, political and historical factors that shape women’s health is assumed. Course readings draw on theories from a wide range of disciplinary and methodological traditions, including: epidemiological, sociological, political economy and human rights approaches to (women’s) health. Women’s interactions with health care systems are of particular interest. Specific topic areas to be discussed include: women’s health movements; aging and the life-course; women and chronic diseases; poverty and social exclusion, negotiating sexualities and health; reproductive health and mothering; complex emergencies and refugee women’s health, and doing dis/ability.

Role: I acted as a teaching assistant for this course (twice) and did a guest lecture in summer 2015 on the topic of LGBTQ health.

I have also given guest lectures in the following courses:

  • Introduction to Public Health (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto – St. George campus; both Master’s and PhD level)
  • Health Psychology (Department of Psychology, University of Toronto – St. George campus; undergraduate level)
  • Health Studies Research and Practice (Health Studies, University College, University of Toronto – St. George campus; undergraduate level)
  • Power, Resistance, and Change (School of Social Work, Ryerson University; undergraduate level)
  • Special Needs Populations (School of Social and Community Services, Humber College; college level)

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