UND forges partnership with Norwegian university on public health education

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News Article

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School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Faculty members in the Master of Public Health Program at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will partner with colleagues at the University of Bergen in Norway (UiB) to train graduate students from both universities in each university’s respective field of expertise.

UND SMHS Assistant Professor Arielle Selya, PhD, and Master of Public Health Founding Director and Professor Raymond Goldsteen DrPH, in collaboration with Associate Professor David Wheat and Professor Pål Davidsen in the Department of Geography at UiB, were awarded a grant titled “Model-based Public Health Education.” The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education under the Partnership Program with North America will fund 2,000,000 Norwegian kroner (approximately $250,000) for this project between January 2017 and December 2020.

Under the project, UiB exchange students receive public health training at UND, and UND exchange students receive system dynamics training at UiB. Up to five students per year combined from both universities could be involved.

“System dynamics is a simulation method that uses principles from engineering to study systems that contain feedback loops and show complex behavior,” Selya said. “System dynamics was originally developed for business applications, but in recent years has been more frequently applied to public health topics. Conventional analytical approaches in public health are often limited because of ethical, practical, and financial reasons, and system dynamics can be a powerful tool for overcoming these limitations because analysis takes place in a simulation setting.”

Participating students will also work on research projects that apply system dynamics modeling to study public health problems. The students will conduct the projects in conjunction with MPH faculty at the UND SMHS, UiB faculty, and partners in the North Dakota Department of Health and Altru Health System.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for MPH students to develop a highly marketable analytics skill while at the same time preparing themselves for the global marketplace,” Goldsteen said. “And for MPH faculty, the project affords new opportunities for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration. We are grateful to Dr. Selya and our Norwegian partners for their great work in securing this grant.”

“This project will strengthen the international and interdisciplinary relationship between UND and UiB by enhancing both educational and research opportunities,” Selya said.