Contributing to global collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork

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What does it mean to be an effective collaborator in global health?

Lori DiPrete Brown, associate director for education and engagement at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI), makes recommendations for educators and practitioners in a DiPreteBrown article in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

“Presentation of our global education programs at the Consortium of Universities of Global

Students stayed at a meditation center while on a field course in Sri Lanka that also gave them an opportunity to participate photo mapping, a service-learning project and learning about a variety of community projects.,

Students stayed at a meditation center while on a field course in Sri Lanka that also gave them an opportunity to participate photo mapping, a service-learning project and learning about a variety of community projects. (Photo by Sweta Shrestha.)

Health led to an invitation to a national roundtable on inter-professional education and practice,” she says. “Once we came together, we found that we had a great deal to learn and share. I hope this article contributes to a larger conversation about effective global collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork.”

DiPrete Brown’s work draws on a number of current competency frameworks from the health sciences and beyond. She also looks to her extensive global health experience and lessons learned from UW-Madison global health education programs. The recommendations reflect a holistic approach and GHI’s local-to-global mission and vision.

“GHI defines global health work as work that addresses the global root causes and global impacts of health challenges and disparities wherever they occur,” she writes. The UW-Madison program identifies global health challenges in Wisconsin as well as across the world, and students are challenged “to see the connections between health, behavior, and environment at the personal, local, and global level.”

DiPrete Brown emphasizes tools for place-based study as the foundation for comparative systems approaches to innovation. Her article focuses on scope of practice, encouraging practitioners and students to respect the boundaries of their training and to practice within those boundaries to the fullest extent possible.

Perspective-taking skills, clarity about roles and transparency about decision-making can reduce error and waste, DiPrete Brown writes. They can also dismantle, at least partially, the distorting power differences and biases where they are present.

DiPrete Brown’s recommendations also look beyond skills transfer to encourage educators to create a context for personal growth and reflection about values. Students should “be engaged in an ongoing process of discernment and self discovery, so they can identify their preferences, strengths, values and passions as they pursue global health work,” she writes.

Synthesizing and improving upon the many frameworks for interdisciplinary global health education is challenging, DiPrete Brown writes. However, for leading research universities like UW-Madison, intentional focus on interdisciplinary and inter-professional skills could increase faculty and student engagement in innovative research and practice to improve health and well-being worldwide.

By Ann Grauvogl/ Dec. 18, 2014

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