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McMaster Investigates Arctic Health Policy with New Course Collaboration

McMaster Investigates Arctic Health Policy with New Course Collaboration September 15, 2016
Mental health and access to health care and education are very real issues for people living in Canada’s Arctic. Tackling these issues is central to a new global health course McMaster University has created in collaboration with University College of Southeast Norway (HSN) in Norway. The course, titled Global Transitions in Local Communities, will be offered in January 2017 and will complement McMaster University’s MSc Global Health program, which is delivered through a network of partner universities (Maastricht University in the Netherlands and Manipal University in India).
“Our Global Health program is opening up access to education in underserved communities, and in the process, increasing faculty and student mobility, and preparing future leaders to investigate policies with a unique global health focus,” said Andrea Baumann, associate vice-president global health and director of McMaster's MSc Global Health program. 
Both Canada and Norway have High North regions, and the people living in these territories share similar historical and geographic contexts. They also face similar threats to their natural resources, their health, and their rights – in an increasingly globalized world. 
After receiving funding in 2014 from the High North Program, administered by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU), McMaster and HSN started work on developing a joint course to address health policy issues of the High North region and create opportunities for collaborative research. 
As part of the project, three global health students have had the opportunity to participate in field practicum positions. Maastricht student Emilie Kowalczewski visited Norway’s High North to investigate the effect of climate change on Saami youth mental health, while McMaster students Douglas Miller and Katherine Palakovic took positions in Tonsberg. Alongside HSN faculty, Miller helped to shape the new course’s content, while Palakovic researched the Norwegian welfare state, public health and social welfare system. 
“This new course represents an important step in addressing the need for better-prepared graduates – ones who will eventually be able to influence policy and become agents of change,” said Baumann.