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Blake Poland, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

University of Toronto
Health Sciences Building, Rm 588, 155 College St.
Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 3M7
Phone: (416) 978-7542


DLSPH faculty profile: 

Updated CV on 

Collaborative Specialization in Community Development: 

Toronto Community Development meetup group: 

Healthier Cities & Communities hub, DLSPH: 

SSHRC-funded Transition Emerging Study: 

Vernissage Health Leadership Dialogue Series: 


Dr. Blake Poland is a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Director of the Collaborative Specialization in Community Development (2007-2008 & 2012-present), co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Health Promotion, co-lead of the DLSPH Healthier Cities & Communities hub, and past program director for the SBHS PhD (2016-2017) and MPH Health Promotion (1999-2007) programs. Trained in social/health geography (PhD McMaster 1994), Blake’s research has focussed on the settings approach to health promotion, the health of marginalized groups, the sociology of tobacco control, and community development as an arena of practice for health professionals. More recently his attention has turned to ecological public health, community resilience, urban sustainability transitions, social movements as agents of change, and authentic dialogue as a tool for transformative learning. Blake teaches dialogical methods (CHL8001), community development in health (CHL5112), building community resilience (GGR434 & CHL5126). On the basis of his course and work on dialogic methods, Blake was approached to contribute to the creation and co-facilitation of a leadership dialogue series entitled Vernissage Health, led by Wendy Nelson (see article link above). The series brings together experienced leaders in health care with students in IHPME and DLSPH to explore challenges in health sector leadership. Part mentorship and part circle dialogue methods informed by Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, the series is being expanded for 2018 to include a group focused on leading change in community settings, and a fall 2017 series with senior managers at CMHA Toronto office. Blake’s research is draws on practice theory, work in the resilience of social-ecological systems, arts-enabled and community-based participatory approaches. He has led or worked on projects employing visual methods (photovoice), participatory research, research-based theatre, and interactive multimedia installations.

CQ Teaching

In the past, Blake has taught courses in Community Development, Health Promotion, Social Capital, Dialogical Methods, and the Settings Approach (in health promotion).

Currently he teaches one course in CQ’s Essentials of Qualitative Research series:

  • CHL8001 - Generative Dialogue in Community And Research Settings: Theory, Method and Ethics

Sample Publications

Poland, B & R Cohen (Forthcoming). “Adaptation of a structured story-dialogue method for action research with social movement activists”. Action Research. Accepted October 2017.
Bisset, S., Frohlich, K., Wright, M., Poland, B., & Tremblay, M.-C. (2017). Can reflexivity be learned? An experience with tobacco control practitioners in Canada. Health Promotion International, 32, 167-176.
Teelucksingh, C., C Buse, B Poland (2016). “Environmental justice in the environmental non-governmental organization landscape of Toronto (Canada)". The Canadian Geographer. 60(3): 381-393. 
Patrick, R, M Dooris, B Poland (2016). Healthy Cities and the Transition movement: converging towards ecological well-being? Global Health Promotion. 23(S1): 90-93.
Benatar, S. & B. Poland (2015) Lessons for health from the environmental crisis. International Journal of Health Services. pii: 0020731415596296
Sharek, M., Frohlich, K., & Poland, B. (2013). Reducing social inequities in health through settings-related interventions: a conceptual framework. Global Health Promotion. 20(2): 39-52.
Poland, B, M Dooris, R Haluza-Delay (2011) “Securing supportive environments for health in the face of ecosystem collapse: Meeting the triple threat with a sociology of creative transformation” Health Promotion International 26(Suppl.2):202-215.
Poland, B. & M Dooris (2010) “A green and healthy future: the settings approach to building health, equity and sustainability”. Critical Public Health 20(3): 281-298.
Masuda, J., Poland, B., Baxter, J. (2010) “ Reaching for environmental health justice through health promotion: a Canadian perspective” Health Promotion International. 25(4): 453-463.
Poland, B., Krupa, G., McCall, D., (2009) “Settings for health promotion: an analytic framework to guide intervention design and implementation”. Health Promotion Practice. 10(4): 505-516
Poland, B., & Holmes, D. (2009). Celebrating risk: the politics of self-branding, transgression and resistance in public health. Aporia, 1(4), 27-36.
Poland, B., Gastaldo D., Pancham, A., Ferrence, R., (2009) “The interpersonal management of environmental tobacco smoke in the home: a qualitative study” Critical Public Health 19(2): 203-221.
Kontos, P., & Poland, B., (2009) “Mapping new theoretical and methodological terrain for knowledge translation: Contributions from critical realism & the arts”. Implementation Science. 4(1): 1-10.
Poland, B., K Frohlich, M Cargo (2008) “Context as a fundamental dimension of health promotion program evaluation”, in L Potvin & DV McQueen (Eds), Health Promotion Evaluation Practice in the Americas: Values and Research, New York, NY: Springer
Lehoux, P. B. Poland, G. Daudelin (2006) “Focus group research and ‘the patient's view’”. Social Science and Medicine. 63 (8): 2091-2104.
Poland, B., et al (2006) “The social context of smoking: The next frontier in tobacco control?” Tobacco Control. 15: 59-63.
Wakefield, S. & B. Poland (2005) "Family, friend or foe? Critical reflections on the relevance and role of social capital in health promotion and community development". Social Science and Medicine. 60(12): 2819-2832.
Poland, B., H. Graham, E. Walsh, P. Williams, J.M. Lum, J. Polzer, S. Syed, S. Tobin, G. Kim (2005) “’Working at the margins’ or ‘leading from behind’? A Canadian study of hospital-community collaboration”. Health and Social Care in the Community. 13(2): 125-135.
Poland, B., P. Lehoux, D. Holmes, G. Andrews (2005) “How place matters: unpacking technology and power in health and social care” Health and Social Care in the Community. 13(2): 170-180.
Poland, B., E. Tupker, K. Breland (2002) “Involving street youth in peer harm reduction education – The challenges of evaluation”. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 93(5): 344-348.
Poland, B., L. Green, and I. Rootman (Eds) (2000) Settings for Health Promotion: Linking Theory and Practice. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications
Poland B., M. Boutilier, S. Tobin, R. Badgley (2000) "A policy context for community development practice in public health: a Canadian case study", Journal of Public Health Policy 21(1): 5-19.
Poland, B. (2000) “The considerate smoker in public space: the micro-politics and political economy of ‘doing the right thing’”. Health and Place. 6(1): 1-14.
Poland B., et al (1999) “Interactions between smokers and non-smokers in public places: a qualitative study”. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 90(5): 330-333.
Poland, B. & A, Pederson (1998) "Reading between the lines: interpreting silences in qualitative research". Qualitative Inquiry. 4(2): 293-312.
Eakin J., A. Robertson, B. Poland, D. Coburn, R. Edwards (1996) "A critical social science perspective on health promotion research". Health Promotion International. 11(2): 157-165
Poland B. (1995) "Transcription quality as an aspect of rigor in qualitative research" Qualitative Inquiry. 1(3): 290-310
Poland B. (1992) "Learning to 'walk our talk': the implications of sociological theory for research methodologies in health promotion" Canadian Journal of Public Health. 83(Supplement): S31-S46