Strategic Plan

Leadership in advancing new knowledge, better nutrition and health equity.

Executive Summary

Over the next five years, the Department of Nutritional Science (the Department) is committed to improving nutritional health across the life cycle, striving for equity - locally and globally- through collaborative research, contributions to policy and practice, and teaching that cover the spectrum from -omics to population health.

Today, faculty members are regarded as leaders in their respective fields, generating knowledge in areas of current interest and concern as varied as the nutritional needs of the Indigenous community, newcomers, food insecure individuals and other marginalized groups within Canada and abroad, to the involvement of patients and caregivers in defining and developing policy, models of care, care protocols and research priorities. Significant infrastructural improvements as well as the hiring of as many as five new faculty members over the next five years, present an unprecedented opportunity to attract current and future world-class leaders while expanding diversity. Specific areas of recruitment focus include: experimental nutrition involving human subjects (e.g. feeding interventions), big data analytics and/or artificial intelligence, sustainability (linked to nutritional policy); and special populations (e.g., women, Indigenous, elderly, identity or gender based). Over the next five years, this research-intensive Department and its renowned faculty, will be recognized for contributions to cutting edge research, policy and practice change that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world.

The Department is also committed to developing the leaders of tomorrow: researchers, educators, industry scientists, policy-makers, regulators and thought leaders. To this end, opportunities have been identified at the undergraduate level to extend beyond the current reach of the Department’s education mandate. Given the rapidly changing and complex external environment, the relevance of course content is to be tested while also rethinking some of the current course structures and related processes to create students who are ready to make a contribution in the nutritional science space on graduation. Over the next five years, growth in the number and quality of enrolled students is expected, together with external recognition of the excellence of the faculty’s teaching skills.

At the graduate level, in addition to recruiting an excellent student body that includes currently under-represented groups, the focus is on strengthening the environment for student and faculty success. Two areas requiring particular attention, working in tandem with the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the University, are the job readiness of graduates not following an academic career, and supporting students’ mental health. In addition, attention will be paid to broadening the experience and exposure internally of post-doctoral fellows and research associates.

The Department’s commitment to professional education is reflected in the expressed intent to sustain and expand current advances in MD program teaching. This will require developing a new compensation model as philanthropic funds currently supporting this initiative come to an end. Ongoing negotiations with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health are underway to determine how best to meet the growing demand being experienced by the Masters of Public Health (MPH Nutrition and Dietetics) program.

The Department’s involvement in national and international nutrition policy development and clinical practice guidelines across the health professions is considerable and needs to be encouraged and promoted more extensively externally to strengthen brand and reputation. While the pre-eminence of research is acknowledged in terms of career progression, better recognition of the significance of this contribution though the Progress through the Ranks (PTR) system would be helpful, particularly in encouraging participation by more mid-level faculty. Every effort should be made to retain the standing of the Department at the forefront of evidence-based policy and practice on a wide variety of topics that link nutritional science to health.

Enabling success is the Department’s commitment to supporting each and every member of faculty across the career lifespan. Building from the existing collegial environment, more formal behavioural statements have been identified under five headings: courage, inclusivity, collaboration, reflection and excellence. These statements guide the Department in moving beyond collegiality to creating the conditions for excellence both in research and in teaching: notably a thriving and engaged human environment based on equity, diversity and inclusion. Formalized orientation and mentoring processes for junior faculty are planned. Adaptations to processes, practices and systems have been identified to support collaboration and sustainability. The addition of a new Research Officer position will provide assistance in such areas as large team operating and CFI grants, organizing internal peer review of grants, oversight of the Nutrition Intervention Centre, and identifying achievement award opportunities. Strengthening the current cadre of departmental leadership talent will also enable sustainability as will the acknowledged need to seek additional revenue from non-traditional sources, including private sector partnerships. Many of these initiatives will be undertaken in collaboration with and/or leveraging initiatives underway in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

The development of this plan occurred in the first year of the Chair’s term. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic provided an interesting opportunity both to conduct a different planning process as well as to promote different conversations. Four working groups were put in place to develop initial propositions with respect to research; undergraduate, graduate and professional education; and faculty development. Given the pandemic heightened the sense of inequality in many ways, important debates about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) took place both within these smaller groups and at the faculty level. This inclusive and evidence informed process led to the development of goal statements and measures, which were then further defined through objectives and strategies. Initial priorities have been identified, moving the Department from planning to action. Linked to a clearly defined cycle of monitoring, reflection, course correction and ongoing prioritization, the Department is equipped to be flexible and adaptive as it faces a volatile and complex future set of opportunities.

Summary of Strategic Framework

Vision: Equitable local and global nutritional health across the lifecycle.

Mission: We improve nutritional health, drawing in diverse voices and working collaboratively with others nationally and internationally, through a combination of collaborative research that covers the spectrum from -omics to population health, contributions to policy and practice change, and teaching. We develop the leaders of tomorrow, outstanding scholars and champions of equity and diversity.

Values: Courage, Inclusivity, Collaboration, Reflection and Excellence

Goals

Objectives

1. RESEARCH

 

Recognized for cutting edge research that is having an impact on people's lives

1. Expand current talent pool, enriching mix of faculty backgrounds and approaches

2. Strengthen environment for faculty's ongoing success.

3. Broaden network of strategic collaborators and partners.

2. EDUCATION

 
Undergraduate Studies - Excellence in delivering foundational nutritional science knowledge of relevance in a rapidly changing and complex world.

1. Strengthen education offering

2. Extend reach

Graduate Studies: Recognized for creating nutrition leaders of tomorrow though continued excellence while expanding diversity and inclusion

1. Expand diversity of graduate student mix

2. Enrich graduate and post graduate student experience

Professional Studies: Recognized and financially sustainable leadership in training health professionals in a range of settings: locally, nationally and globally

1. Introduce changes to faculty performance management processes to recognize commitment and contribution to professional education

2. Develop a sustainable approach to delivery of professional education courses with an initial focus on medical education

3. ENABLING STRATEGIES

 

Enhanced faculty success through strengthened support, collaboration and efficiency across the Department

1. Foster academic leadership development

2. Continue to upgrade infrastructure, equipment, policies, processes and technology for optimal support for collaboration and sustainability

3. Expand Department’s profile nationally and internationally

4. Partner with Advancement