Research and Practice in Canada

CoPEH-Canada identifies and develops strategies for long-term regional and institutional capacity to support ecosystem approaches to health, including complementary funding for diffusion, research, and exchange as well as training. The Community has enabled many initiatives, some of which are presented below.


EDGE grant - Curricular Reform for Public Health in the Anthropocene, CIHR Planning and Dissemination Grant


CoPEH-Canada members Blake Poland (UoT) and Maya Gislason (SFU) submitted a successful application for a literature review on teaching at the intersection of health, environment and society. CoPEH-Canada will be contributing to the work. 

Former research grants

CoPEH-Canada connections with successful team grants CIHR competition in Intersectoral Prevention Research


Two of the teams which made successful applications to CIHR’s competition for intersectoral prevention on health and environment involve direct collaborations with CoPEH-Canada. 

  • “The ECHO (Environment, Community, Health Observatory) Network: Strengthening intersectoral capacity to understand and respond to health impacts of resource development”, is co-led by Margot Parkes at UNBC and Sandra Allison at Northern Health in BC, along with a team from across Canada, including regional cases in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick
  • A Shared Future: Achieving Strength, Health and Autonomy through renewable energy development for the future focuses on first nation's health and is co-lead by Heather Castleden at Queen's University, and a pan-Canadian team.

To find out more about intersectoral prevention research at the CoPEH-Canada, please read our summary on the subject. 

CIHR Team Grant : Impact of Gender on Knowledge Translation Interventions 

Members of the QAA node put in a successful application to the CIHR Team Grant : Impact of Gender on Knowledge Translation Interventions: Generating and passing on gender-conscious knowledge about equality, equity and occupational/environmental health. One of the case studies for a retrospective analysis will be in Environmental Health and the CoPEH-Canada course will serve as a reservoir for prospective studies. 

Webalogue series

Launched in April of 2014, this series of dynamic webalogues aims to highlight the variety of ways in which a range of practitioners, professionals, policy-makers and community members are grappling with topical, current and complex issues emerging at the nexus of population health, ecosystem and society. The 90-minute (or 2 hour) sessions are participatory and focused on learning and sharing. Issues cut across disciplines, sectors, jurisdictions, species and geographical boundaries.

Networking events

CoPEH-Canada works to increase connections between people interested in ecosystem approaches to health. We have helped form or rely on existing forums to spread the word. 

  • EDGE: Ecological determinants group on education 
  • Founding member of EcoHealth Ontario
  • Webalogue series in Western node BC
  • Ecohealth & Watersheds work (links to NESH)
  • ‘Pilot training initiatives’ at Provincial Public Health Events
  • Almost yearly Canadian Public Health Agency conference activities (pre/post conference meetings or networking breakfasts)

Ecohealth publications

Each of our members has a rich corpus of writings on, or using, ecosystem approaches to health. For example we recently carried out a review of work conducted by our core members on Intersectoral Prevention Research (to see the review click here). What is profiled below is the work that we have conducted together on the field of Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Canada. Please see each individual’s professional page or their Research Gate profiles for a complete list of their publications.

Transformative learning for a sustainable and healthy future through ecosystem approaches to health: insights from 15 years of co-designed ecohealth teaching and learning experiences.
Webb, Jena, Raez-Villanueva, Sergio, Carrière, Paul D, Beauchamp, Audrey-Anne, Bell, Isaac, Day, Angela, Elton, Sarah, Feagan, Mathieu, Giacinti, Jolene, Kabemba Lukusa, Jean Paul, Kingsbury, Celia, Torres-Slimming, Paola A, Bunch, Martin, Clow, Katie, Gislason, Maya K, Parkes, Margot W, Jane Parmley, E, Poland, Blake et Vaillancourt, Cathy. (2023).  The Lancet Planetary Health7(1), e86‑e96.

This paper presents insights from the work of the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health (CoPEH-Canada) and 15 years (2008–2022) of land-based, transdisciplinary, learner-centred, transformative learning and training. We have oriented our learning approaches to Head, Hands, and Heart, which symbolise cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning, respectively. Psychomotor and affective learning are necessary to grapple with and enact far-reaching structural changes (eg, decolonisation) needed to rekindle healthier, reciprocal relationships with nature and each other. We acknowledge that these approaches have been long understood by Indigenous colleagues and communities. We have developed a suite of teaching techniques and resources through an iterative and evolving pedagogy based on participatory approaches and operating reciprocal, research-pedagogical cycles; integrated different approaches and ways of knowing into our pedagogy; and built a networked Community of Practice for continued learning. Planetary health has become a dominant framing for health-ecosystem interactions. This Viewpoint underscores the depth of existing scholarship, collaboration, and pedagogical expertise in ecohealth teaching and learning that can inform planetary health education approaches.


How to carry out participatory research that takes account of sex and gender issues : A scoping review of guidelines targeting health inequities.
Lefrançois, M., Sultan-Taïeb, H., Webb, J., Gervais, M.-J., Messing, K., Blanchette-Luong, V., Riel, J., Saint-Charles, J., Faust, R., Vaillancourt, C., Fillion, M., & Laberge, M. (2023).  Canadian Journal of Public Health114(3), 404‑421.
This review provides helpful guidelines to researchers at different stages of planning participatory research, ranging from familiarizing themselves with gender approaches to anticipating difficulties in their ongoing gender-transformative participatory research.

Application of an evaluation framework for extra-organizational communities of practice: assessment and refinement
McKeller, K.A, J. Saint-Charles, W. Berta, R Cockerill,  D. C. Cole (2020). The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation 35(2): 60-64.

The primary objective of this study was to assess the applicability of a multi-level, multiple value evaluation framework for extra-organizational CoPs. We conducted qualitative interviews with an extra-organizational CoP—the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystems Approaches to Health (CoPEH-Canada). Our findings showed that the evaluation framework was sufficiently comprehensive to capture values generated. Reflecting on our findings, we share challenges in its application and suggest revisions to the framework. We discuss limitations and strengths, evaluation research next steps, and the opportunities for future applications.


Evolution of capacity strengthening: insights from the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health
Cole, D. C., M. W. Parkes, J. Saint-Charles, M. Gislason, K. McKellar and J. Webb (2018). Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal 11(2).

We describe a Community of Practice focused on capacity strengthening across higher education institutions in the complex field of ecosystem approaches to health. Incubated through the co-design of a Canada-wide intensive face-to-face course, the Community of Practice generated a teaching manual with flexible formats to extend our reach to other academic faculty and practitioners. We describe how the development of collaborations (process) has been dynamically linked with learning about ecosystem approaches to health (content domain) in ways congruent with the field’s complexity. We argue that cross-university, grounded Communities of Practice are particularly appropriate for transdisciplinary educational initiatives tackling the daunting socio-ecological problems, and the associated health and sustainability challenges, currently facing humanity.


Strengthening collaborative capacity: experiences from a short, intensive field course on ecosystems, health and society
Parkes MW, Saint-Charles J, Cole DC, Gislason M, Hicks E, Le Bourdais C, et al. 2016. Higher Education Research & Development:1-16.

This quote-rich research article analyses three years (2008-2010) of student feedback on the CoPEH-Canada course. Findings highlight the importance of diversity (of background and language), relationships among students and the teaching team, and complexity in the teaching methods (reflecting the complexity of reality).


Connections for Health, Ecosystems and Society leading to Action and Change
Saint-Charles J, Surette C, Parkes M, Morrison K (2014) EcoHealth 11:279-280

This forum piece serves as an introduction to a special issue of the EcoHealth journal dedicated to the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health, co-hosted by CoPEH-Canada and Cinbiose. It emphasizes the importance of relationships and connections in all the work we do to improve health, wellbeing and the environment. 


Ecohealth as a field: Looking forward
Saint-Charles J, Webb J, Sanchez A, Mallee H, van Wendel de Joode B, Nguyen-Viet H (2014) EcoHealth 11:300-307

The results of a pre-conference workshop hosted by CoPEH-Canada at the EcoHealth 2012 conference, Kunming, China are described in a forum paper co-constructed with international colleagues and published in the journal EcoHealth in 2014. The paper presents qualitative data from focus groups on where the international community sees the field of ecohealth heading.


Special issue of VertiGo

In conjunction with the EcoHealth 2014 conference, the Québec-Acadie-Atlantique node of CoPEH-Canada worked toward the launch of a special number of the journal, VertiGo, to promote the ecosystem approaches to health in the francophone world.


Teaching Manual

In 2012, a teaching manual in ecosystem approaches to health was published by CoPEH-Canada. The manual is comprised of a series of seven modules (Health, Ecosystem Approaches to Health, Complexity, Social Networks, Gender & Sex, Participation & Research and Transversal Activities (Building a Case Study)) intended to support people in designing, developing and teaching their own ecohealth courses. An abridged Spanish version is available and our teaching manual page features each module paired with multimedia.


Milestones in Canadian Population and Public Health research 

Webb JC, Mergler D, Parkes MW et al. (2010) Tools for Thoughtful Action: The Role of Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Enhancing Public Health Canadian Journal of Public Health 101:439-441

In 2010, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Canadian Public Health Association recognised Ecosystem approaches to health as a ‘Milestone in Canadian Population and Public Health research,’ in recognition of major contributions to addressing challenges at the interface of ecosystems, society and health in Canada and beyond.



10 yr anniversary


2018 was CoPEH-Canada’s 10-year anniversary. We had several activities planned, including a social event prior to the CPHA conference in Montreal in May and a social event at EcoHealth 2018 in Cali, Colombia in August. 





This meeting series brought together colleagues from research, practice and policy involved in ecohealth research and practice to discuss future directions for the field and concrete collaborations.