York occupational health and safety students build, curate multimedia research repository

Workers clad in hardhats and safety gear inspecting documents

Assistant Professor Duygu Biricik Gulseren’s Fall 2022 Occupational Health & Safety (HRM 3400) class created The OHS Project, which comprises case studies, news and academic articles, and podcast episodes, as a part of a semester-long experiential education effort dedicated to advancing workplace safety.

Professor Duygu Biricik Gulseren close-up photo
Duygu Biricik Gulseren

The newly launched project aims to become an informational touchstone not just for future occupational health and safety (OHS) students at York’s School of Human Resources Management (HRM), but for OHS researchers and educators around the world as well.

In accordance with prevailing open education principles, all research materials offered by The OHS Project are provided without redaction or subscription. Currently the website is home to 23 case studies, 21 articles and six podcast episodes, all published by students. As Gulseren welcomes new cohorts into her courses, and into the project, the breadth of the research materials on display will continue to grow and continue to be shared with students in other OHS courses, as well as with professionals in the field.

“[The project has] great resources for OHS professionals. I liked the cases and podcasts, they are very informative and make you think about company specific OHS procedures,” said Yasemin Mensah, general manager of safety and quality at Wartsila Energy Storage.

“I really appreciate the effort to create a website and share it with us,” said Yisheng Peng, assistant professor of organizational science and communication at George Washington University. “To continue building our future portfolio for occupational health and safety education, I will also encourage my students to engage in these similar activities, i.e. case interviews and analyses.”

Experiential education advantages

Naturally, the benefits of Gulseren’s diverse grading methods, and novel approach to promoting research opportunities, were felt first and foremost by the students who founded the project under her direction.

First-year human resources student Ugur Erdal hosted his own podcast episode which focused on occupational health psychology and the concerns of researchers within that burgeoning field of study.

“The podcast [provides] perspectives related to different academic backgrounds [adjacent to] occupational health and safety,” Erdal said. “The podcast provided me with [access] to international information transfer systems and [readily available] academic information. Even though international meetings and interactions seem hard [to coordinate,] podcasts present excellent opportunities for both students and professors [to engage experts abroad.]”

“The OHS Project offers a wealth of learning opportunities. It allows students to obtain certification in research ethics (CORE-2022), hone interviewing and transcription skills, apply foundational occupational health and safety principles, and offers the opportunity to network… with practitioners in the field,” wrote Jason Molnar, who authored a case study for the project. “Plus, writing the case study narrative was fun. I highly recommend this project for anyone interested in experiential learning.”

In the future, Gulseren plans for the program to not only increase in the quantity of research materials it contains, but to also evolve in how it prepares students for the workplace. There are also plans to expand the podcasting opportunities to graduate and PhD students.

“In the current term, we are also adding a training component to the project,” Gulseren said. “Students from this course, along with Ayesha Tabassum, a PhD candidate in HRM, and I are designing a brief, evidence-based ‘techno-stress’ training [module] for employees working from home. We will evaluate the effectiveness of the training using data from employees working from home.”