Global health students gain real-world experience while learning and collaborating in transcontinental teams
The Global Health Foundations courses, as a core component of the MSc in Global Health program, are designed to teach competencies such as project development and management, health policy analysis, and encourage students to develop an understanding of the context of global challenges.
In Foundations II, held during the Winter Term, students are asked to draft a project proposal responding to a global health priority for a fictitious funding foundation – Global Agency for International Development (GAID).
GAID this year was particularly interested in supporting interventions that contribute to alleviating poverty and to improve health outcomes for vulnerable and excluded individuals around the globe — an aim that is not far from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that serve as a pillar for many real-world global health innovation funding institutions.
While working in virtual and transcontinental teams with our partnership universities in the Netherlands, India, Colombia, and Thailand, students gain experience with complex project design and basic principles of project management in the field of global health. In addition to developing critical thinking skills, students learn to overcome language and cultural barriers as they navigate working within a diverse team.
“Working in the transcontinental team truly immersed me in the different technical, cultural, and social approaches to problem solving present in global health collaborations” remarks Jenny Hu, MSc in Global Health student, “the different professional and personal backgrounds of each member of my team contributed to building our understandings of intersectionality in Canada, India, the Netherlands, and beyond”.
Participating in a group with students from the Universidad del Rosario, MSc in Global Health student, Yashvi Verma, reflects on the immersive and innovative learning environment. She explains, “as our global health project was also based in Colombia, I was able to gain insight into the country’s culture, politics and policies, and develop cultural intelligence.”
Moreover, as part of the 2022 Learning Symposium, several groups were selected to present their project proposals developed during the Winter Term. The finalist teams were chosen based on their ability to integrate intersectionality and incorporate the prevailing global health challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They considered gender equality, social justice, and the alleviation of poverty throughout their proposals and utilized innovation to address priorities on a local and global level. Highlighting the importance of local priorities, cultural context, and community-led interventions, students also emphasized the sustainability of their projects.
“Throughout all aspects of our proposal, we reflected on intersectionality frameworks to recognize the unique challenges that intersecting identities can create in the context of health challenges,” remarks Briann Mensour, MSc in Global Health student. She continues to explain, “developing global health projects within the scope of intersectionality frameworks ensures that projects are both feasible and appropriate for marginalized populations”.
The Global Health students’ presentations have addressed SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 1 (No Poverty), and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Each presentation brought a unique approaches and focus, however, this year there was also a trend towards SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 6 (Clean Water & Sanitation), and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
The experience of collaborating, developing project proposals, and taking a critical approach to analyze and synthesize different global health issues and concerns provided students with the opportunity to apply and gain practical knowledge. Through the exposure and learnings of the course building on the foundations of how to address and discover solutions to global health issues, students develop the necessary skills that they can apply to their future careers in the field of global health.
Global Health News