Our health is the foundation of how we experience the world – and when we are unwell, physically or mentally, it can turn our worlds upside down. Community health is also vital to our individual health and to the places where we live, work and play.
That’s why a wide range of Laurier researchers are working to improve health and well-being on individual and community levels, in areas including helping people get physically active, caring for people as they age, alleviating loneliness, understanding drugs’ effects on the brain, helping marginalized communities celebrate their identities and promoting equity for all.
Laurier researchers work to understand and promote physical health in a wide range of areas such as alleviating low-back pain, the interaction between exercise and appetite, how group dynamics affect physical activity, quality control in palliative care, technological innovation in the health and aging sector, assessing paramedics’ physical abilities, understanding cell energetics to eventually treat mitochondrial diseases, controlling salmonella on fresh produce, designing artificial intelligence to aid seniors and using data to understand neurodegenerative diseases.
The Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities brings together community outreach programs and research on physical activity. The Energy Metabolism Research Laboratory investigates exercise and nutrition. The Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre examines motor impairment, particularly Parkinson’s Disease. This research helps inform Laurier programs such as Health Sciences, Kinesiology and Physical Education, Public Health and Health Administration.
Mental and brain health are as vital as physical health, though mental health issues are more stigmatized and, in some cases, less well understood. Laurier researchers are working to change that, through research in areas such as how cannabis affects the brain, the effectiveness of peer support, concussion treatment, trauma in police officers and paramedics, achieving goals, cyberbullying and detecting early-stage dementia.
The Laurier Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience is one of Canada’s premier centres in the study of the brain mechanisms behind thought and cognition. The Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute for Music Therapy Research and the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community focus on the healing effects of music at the individual and community levels. The Psychology programs in Waterloo and Brantford conduct research and train students in areas including forensic psychology, neuroscience and social psychology. The Faculty of Social Work is also a hub for research and education on mental health and wellness, and students and faculty in Community Music and Music Therapy research music and mental health.
What makes communities healthy? Is it programs that help new mothers breastfeed? Using the arts to express pride in cultural identity? Programs to get children with disabilities physically active? Can examining problems such as trans people’s experiences of discrimination, historical institutional violence or homeless in young women encourage communities to do better? All these things contribute to community well-being, which is why Laurier researchers have been investigating these topics and more. Laurier has a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, including in research, and many of its research projects reflect a desire to create the conditions that enable everyone to thrive.
The Manulife Centre for Community Health Research examines social determinants of health through a variety of community-based research projects. The Social Innovation Research Group carries out community-based research, often with vulnerable populations. The Laurier Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action works to advance community well-being and social justice. The Laurier Centre for Women in Science promotes equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. At the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Laurier and partner researchers in the Global Health Research Cluster develop and support teams of researchers, practitioners and policymakers to improve health and health systems in Canada and around the world.
Academic programs in areas such as Community Psychology, Social Work, Community Health and Community Music allow students to research and learn about community health, wellness and equity. Programs at Martin Luther University College have a strong focus on community wellness through spiritual care.