Students taking the Promoting Global Health course received an unexpected serving of video skills, thanks to a challenging and innovative course assignment delivered by their instructor.
By Elaine Smith
Students taking the York University course Promoting Global Health received an unexpected serving of video skills, thanks to a challenging course assignment.
The third-year course, required of all specialized honours majors in the Global Health Promotion and Disease Prevention stream in the Faculty of Health, is taught by Amrita Daftary, an assistant professor of global health. It focuses on health issues around the globe, exploring the determinants of these problems and considering equitable and community-focused ways to mitigate them. The students learn about various models and theories of health promotion and examine the current interventions and the triumphs and trials faced in addressing various problems.
“Students learn to think critically about what the problem is, what its causes are and the social circumstances that surround it,” Daftary said. “They need to consider the entire system, otherwise the solutions they create will be Band Aid solutions. They need to look toward something more sustainable.
“However, it’s about approach, not simply about the solution. Students need to build a sense of humility and collaboration. I offer a lecture about decolonizing global health so they can rid themselves of the saviour mentality and be mindful of the needs of the communities affected.”
Of course, a large part of health promotion is education, and that’s where videos – and PowerPoint presentations – entered the mix. Working in groups, students were required to create a case study of a marginalized group and one of its health problems, exploring three ways the problem was currently being addressed and pointing out what was working and what wasn’t. The analysis required them to use the theories and models learned in class.
Once they’d analyzed the problem and solutions, Daftary required each group to develop a set of recommendations for addressing the problem, including working with the community. They submitted a PowerPoint of these recommendations before tackling the challenge of creating individual videos.
“Video can be a useful way to deliver a message,” Daftary said. “The students had to choose a relevant stakeholder, such as someone experiencing the problem or someone at risk and create a three-minute succinct video with a clear message targeted to this audience. They had to consider which factors their stakeholder could control and present the message in language that stakeholder would understand. If they were focusing on teens, for example, a hip-hop message might be appropriate.”
Daftary brought in Bertland Imai from York’s Digital Media Support team to assist students with creating the videos, and Anda Petro, the faculty’s experiential education co-ordinator, to talk to the students about successful group work and how to capitalize on the strengths of each team member. The students had use of open access video tools and learned how to cut their video, juxtapose images, include text and add audio.
The students enjoyed the challenge of creating their own videos and learned skills that should be useful to them in health promotion careers.
“The creation of a stakeholder video takes a lot of cooperation from multiple creative minds,” said student Nicole Spiterie. “Each teammate contributed in their own style, making for an excellent vision and final product.
“Working with my colleagues made me realize the leadership skills I didn’t know I had.”
Classmate Alessia Scanga noted, “This assignment provided a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues while serving as an effective means to integrate course concepts with real-world issues.”
Daftary was inspired “to see my students transform their understanding of important global health issues into a creative output.
“The students were very tech-savvy, which made this the perfect undergraduate assignment. They could feel proud of having an artistic, tangible output. We don’t often merge the creative and the scientific, but I found it gave the students a level of validation that they did not have with traditional written assignments.”