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Transdisciplinary Global Health Challenge

The Transdisciplinary Global Health challenge is a pilot project embedded in the Global Health minor track, in which students work on global health challenges together with societal partners.

The world is facing a complex set of global (health) challenges, from Covid to climate change, from rising inequalities, migration to ageing populations. To address these challenges, new ideas and large-scale innovation, as well as economic and societal transformation and international cooperation, are required. Within higher education, this calls for increased societal accountability and participation in order to enable students to connect with society and gain competencies to undertake real-world societal issues. An approach to achieve this is through community engaged education (CSL).

The Global Health minor track (at the VU) aims to provide students with an understanding of complex global health challenges and helps them develop skills to cross disciplinary boundaries through interdisciplinary collaboration and co-creation. Equipping (future) professionals with these skills requires well designed courses and programs that engage communities/society. In this way, students get first-hand experience with addressing complex global health issues, whilst contributing to solving societal issues which in turn benefit the community.

Within the VU there already exist a number of initiatives that offer students the opportunity to work on societal challenges. However, these are small-scale projects primarily designed with a monodisciplinary focus. Working on complex social challenges requires the integration of insights from different disciplines.

The Transdisciplinary Global Health Challenge proposes an innovative learning program. Over a period of five months students from different disciplines will work, in close collaboration with societal partners, on a real life health issue. This project will be embedded into the Global Health minor track. This project aims to help students with building a network, practising real life problem solving and working on competencies such as transdisciplinary collaboration, reflection, dealing with diversity, creativity, leadership and adaptability. The Transdisciplinary Global Health Challenge, challenges students to tackle the regional, national and international societal challenges of the 21st century.

The project involves the design, implementation and evaluation of community engaged education in the Global Health minor track for students in higher education.

This project aims to:

  • Re-design the global health minor track, focussing on interdisciplinary (/transdisciplinary) learning through community engagement
  • Develop a framework for the design and implementation of a transdisciplinary global health challenge across different courses (within a minor program)
  • Conduct scientific research on the design, implementation and evaluation of community engaged education in a global health program.

Through the concepts of Challenge-Based Learning and CSL, a new education program will be designed focusing on learning whilst solving real world challenges. We will draw on the concept of co-creation to promote close collaboration between students, teachers/ coordinators and local/global communities involved in the project. Throughout the various stages of the project, we will integrate the reflexive monitoring in action methodology to stimulate recurrent collective reflection on the actions undertaken.

Project details

  • Team

    • Prof. Dr. Marjolein Zweekhorst
    • Dr. Nadine Blignaut – van Westrhenen
    • Dr. Sarju Sing Rai
    • Dr. Ben Sonneveld
    • Dr. Abdul Azad
    • Amber Mers, MSc
  • Funding

    This project has received funding from the Comenius Teaching Fellow.