27 April 2015

Cross-faculty collaboration in Case Competition for Global Health

Case challenge

How to solve the problems of armed violence in Honduras, often referred to as the most dangerous country on Earth? This was the case study at Emory Global Health Competition 2015, where six students from UCPH competed against teams from 23 universities.

Team picture
Benjamin Ebeling (medicine), Anika Ruisch (global health), Rasmus Skov Knudsen (statistics), Pernille Friis Jensen (sociology/religion), Kamilla Bech Kofoed (anthropology/psychology) og Amrita Sankaranarayanan (pharmacy).

In late March, six students from different faculties at the University of Copenhagen travelled to Atlanta, US, to take part in the annual Emory Global Health Case Competition at Emory University. Alongside only one other foreign university, the University of Copenhagen, represented for the first time, was among the 24 participants.

The aim of the annual Case Competition is to bring different disciplines together in order to come up with innovative solutions to global health problems. Each team consists of six participants, and they must represent at least three different faculties.

The six participants from UCPH came from highly different backgrounds: medicine, global health, statistics, sociology/religion, anthropology/psychology and pharmaceuticals. This proved challenging but also very beneficial in terms of problem solving, which is the idea behind the Emory Case Competition, where focus is on solving problems that demand interdisciplinary collaborations. Benjamin Ebeling, who studies medicine at the University of Copenhagen, says:

“Learning how to work together in a group with people you hardly know has been highly educational. We’ve learnt a lot about group dynamics, about listening and giving each other room – and becoming better at presenting arguments based on our professional subjects.” Benjamin sees great advantages in cross-faculty collaborations in relation to global Health problems:

“I’ve worked with global health problems before, where I’ve come up against barriers because I lacked knowledge from other disciplines, which is why focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration is a really good idea.”

The six students applied for the competition in December and in January the received confirmation that they were accepted. Then they met up four times before journeying to Atlanta, where they were given seven days to come up with an innovative solution to the case problem. Unfortunately, their solution was not among the finalists, but they still got a great deal out of just taking part in the competition, as Benjamin explains:

“It’s been a really exiting experience and a great opportunity to meet others who also work with global health issues.”

His advice to others who consider applying for next year’s completion is clear and unequivocal:

“If you’re thinking about it, you should just do it. All disciplines have something to contribute, and diversity in your group is a good thing.”