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PH&CRHS Challenge

In the Planetary Health and Climate Resilient Health Systems Challenge, master students from different disciplines have reflected on ways to sustain society without overburdening our environment and our planet. In this course of 5 or 8 ECTS, learners explored the theme of Planetary Health:  

“One of the aims of Planetary Health is to identify new and better relationships between humans and Earth’s natural systems.”

Through a combination of online modules, in-class workshops and interactive seminars, learners needed to gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities and possible trade-offs necessary to build health systems supportive of both human and environmental health that also effectively address issues of climate change.  

This course provided learners with the opportunity to use CBL to, as part of an interdisciplinary team, totackle real-world problems. In collaboration with external stakeholders, including clinicians, learners from our alliance institutes worked together to develop solutions to the challenge of developing more climate-resilient and equitable health systems.  

Learning outcomes

After completing this course, learners were expected to be able to:

  1. Display understanding of the concepts of planetary health and sustainability in healthcare from the perspectives of health systems, climate resilience, and health equity and justice.
  2. Discuss the relation between these concepts, possible trade-offs and how these relate to Global Goals.
  3. Analyse with stakeholders how these concepts relate to the project, and from there identify a specific group challenge.
  4. Evaluate existing approaches and solutions relating to their specific challenge.
  5. Create actionable solutions to the challenge contributing to more climate-resilient and just health systems.
  6. Effectively collaborate within international, interdisciplinary teams and with external stakeholders.
  7. Effectively communicate scientific findings and solutions to an inter and transdisciplinary audience.

Learning journey

In order to make the course more widely accessible, there were three options through which this course can be followed. All learners worked together and took the same course but did so in different capacities. 

  • Option 1
    The learners took this course as full-time students for the full 6-week duration. The course was worth 8 ECTS for these learners, equating to 224 hours of work spread across the in-class sessions, online learning modules, and self-study over the 6 weeks (c. 37 hours per week).
  • Option 2
    The learners took this course as full-time students, but for only a 3-week duration. For these learners, the course was worth 6 ECTS, equating to 168 hours. These 168 hours were spread across in-class sessions, online modules and group work outside of class. While a large portion of these hours took place in the three weeks of course-timeline, some online modules could be covered before the official start date of this course to help to manage the workload more flexibly and at their own pace. The learners took an active role in their group for 3 weeks; to define the problem, set the challenge proposal, investigation plan and investigation progress pitch, but not the final challenge-solution presentation.
  • Option 3
    The learners took this course as part-time students for the full 6-week duration. For these learners, the course is worth 5 ECTS, equating to 140 hours over the 6 weeks (or 23 hours per week). Some of the online modules could be covered before the official start date of this course to help to manage the workload more flexibly and at their own pace. When the course officially started, the learners were introduced into their groups and meet their challenge agents in order to start on their challenges. The learners acted as consultants within the group work, rather than active group members, to reflect their part-time role within the course. As consultant, these learners acted as a ‘critical friend’ to their group, taking part in team meetings and providing feedback but not involved in writing the group assignments. Feedback was provided within team meetings and on draft documents or plans.


The final assessment was divided into a number of group and individual deliverables.

  • The group deliverables were a challenge proposal and investigation plan, investigation progress pitch and final solution presentation. 
    • Challenge proposal and investigation plan
      This deliverable contained the initial understanding of what the problem is. This could include the current status: what has and hasn’t been done to address it, and what information is missing or not understood. It could include how the learners expect to gather the information necessary to design a relevant solution in the time provided. A stakeholder map and justification were also required, including who will need to be included, who has power and interest, their roles, who are the winners and losers, and whose support is needed. This document had to be no more than 1,500 words ± 10%.
    • Investigation progress pitch
      The pitch covered focus on six aspects: an outline of the investigation plan, any findings thus far, identification of any (expected or unexpected) barriers within the process of the investigation, any potential modifications to the initial investigation plan based on findings or overcoming the identified barriers, and explanation of the deliverables and how these might be adjusted based on the investigation. This had to be c. 20 minutes including Q&A.
    • Final solution presentation
      The presentation had to focus on an outline of the challenge, a description of the solution, a graphic of the planned activities, necessary contributing materials/resources (including people) and how these were predicted to lead to the desired impact, solution timeline, estimated budget, feasibility of the solution and a brief monitoring and evaluation plan. This had to be c. 15 minutes long.
  • The individual deliverables were an essay and a reflective portfolio.
    • Essay
      Each team broke down their challenge and individuals take responsibility to explore an aspect. The purpose of writing an individual paper is to gain a better understanding of a topic related to the group’s challenge. There had to be a connection between the content of the paper and the Big Idea(s) addressed in the course. Learners had to elaborate on the value of this paper in finding a solution for the group’s challenge. This document had to be no more than 1,500 words ± 10%.
    • Reflective portfolio
      Learners built a reflective portfolio by submitting five portfolio elements at various times throughout the course, in which they were asked to reflect on different aspects of their own perspectives/ways of thinking. The portfolio elements were:
      • Personal skills: learners briefly reflect on the teamwork session and how their learning can be applied to working in small groups on planetary health challenges. 
      • Planetary Health & Me: why is Planetary Health important to them, what aspects of it appeal to them, what do they consider major obstacles towards achieving environmental and human health. 
      • Positionality and equity on a personal level: reflect on their own life’s advantages or disadvantages and how this relates to their place in the world. 
      • Intercultural team dynamics: describe their experiences working in a group of learners with different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds on collaborative assignments. Link this to what they have learned about themselves and about skills-building and using these skills in teamwork and interdisciplinary settings. 
      • Reflective portfolio report: they reflect upon their learning process throughout this course. Look back on their Portfolio Elements and describe what they feel was most valuable for them in this challenge process. 

Course evaluation

At the end of the course the learners received a questionnaire with questions about organisation, content, guidance, assessment, cooperation and their final opinion. The evaluation results were discussed with the core team of the course afterwards. 

General information and contact details of this CBL course can be found on the EWUU website.