Schulich Leader Merges Science and Global Social Justice

Hamilton District Christian High alum Emma Hansen ’13, is studying Philosophy and Physics at the University of Toronto.

I am so incredibly grateful to have been chosen as a University of Toronto Schulich Leader. The university of Toronto has a vast number of opportunities in the STEM disciplines – opportunities for excellent theoretical and experiential learning, exciting research opportunities, and a fantastic science community.

At Hamilton District Christian High, many of the courses emphasize the interplay between reason and faith. This is a relationship that continues to guide me in my studies. The Vic One program at Victoria College, in particular, helped me to develop a good understanding of the intersections between STEM knowledge and social issues. I loved the interesting curriculum and the sense of community in these classes.

Being a socially conscious student or academic is especially interesting in the context of science. I’ve done some volunteer work in the past few years in Arms Control, specifically Nuclear Non-Proliferation. I loved Mr. Koiter’s physics courses in high school and I was motivated to keep reading about the history of science. The stories I came across in atomic physics were wonderful and fascinating – until 1945 when the first atomic bombs were used in conflict to kill vast numbers of civilians in Japan.

It had been my dream to attend a Pugwash conference since I first learned about the movement in high school, so I was thrilled and humbled to attend the 61st Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in Nagasaki this autumn. I also did an internship with Pax Christi International, an ecumenical peace organization located in Brussels, after my first year at U of T. The internship allowed me to learn a lot about the way that weapons are distributed and used in political bargaining.

I always felt supported and encouraged at Hamilton District Christian High. The University of Toronto is a very big pond, but my time in high school gave me the confidence and the interest in inquiry that has allowed me to swim along in my own corner. I was blessed to have several strong friendships and meaningful mentorship relationships develop during my time at Hamilton District Christian High, and those relationships have also helped me to find a community here in Toronto.

‘Wine Before Breakfast’ has become an important part of my U of T life. It is a ministry meant to engage both students and members of the community. We meet at 7:22 on Tuesday mornings for a time of worship, litany readings, teachings, prayer, and communion. After the service, a breakfast of home baking, juice, and organic Fair Trade coffee is shared in the chaplain’s office.

The community members, in addition to being warm and welcoming, do very interesting work. I’ve come across friends who work on the theology of disability, reducing urban poverty, and more generally extending Christ’s love to the marginalized.

I am very thankful for the educational experiences that I’ve had so far. My plan, for now, is to keep studying so that I can apply my commitment to social justice as a member of the legal profession.