Global Health: now as a MOOC from Karolinska Institutet

What is the public health status of different countries and of regions with different income levels? What impact does development have on human health and how can we improve global health? Karolinska Institutet has produced a new online course based on the knowledge of global health collated by Professor Hans Rosling, and is held in his spirit in a web-friendly format.

Hans Rosling, professor emeritus of international health at Karolinska Institutet is famed for his eagerness to influence attitudes by countering prejudice and informing people about how the world really looks by using innovative techniques, including props and infographics. Bill and Melinda Gates, for example, use his expertise in their foundation.

Now the course based on his knowledge and methods is available as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). An introduction to global health is open to everyone around the world, from upper secondary school upwards. It is free and requires no previous knowledge or qualifications.

“The course in an important step towards improving global health,” says Assistant Professor Helena Nordenstedt, who is in charge of the online course. “All decisions should be made on solid factual grounds, and these days the world is closer than ever before. We travel more and millions of people are displaced. We’re more globalised, and so the world no longer looks the same as it did when we were at school.”

There are still places available on the course, which started at the end of March. Already, 17,000 people from 191 countries have enrolled on the course, which lasts six weeks, with three themes every week. Some of the subjects addressed are:

  • How health varies within and amongst countries and with different income levels.
  • How falling rates of infant mortality and fertility are putting a stop to the rapid growth of the global population.
  • How equality and legislation affects health around the world.
  • How chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, are becoming an ever growing health burden while the significance of infections is declining.

Each theme is introduced by Hans Rosling and taught by other researchers and lectures from the university. The course includes two written assignments, for which students can use Hans Rosling’s Gapminder tool to explore developments in different countries. Students are also expected to take an active part in the online discussion forum.

“This is awesome,” says Helena Nordenstedt. “The course has only been running for a couple of days but we’re already seeing contributions to the discussion threads from people in places like Tanzania, Brazil, Sri Lanka, the USA and India.”

The course is offered through the non-profit international educational group edX, which was started up by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to offer high quality education – MOOCs – on a shared, free internet platform.

Sign up for the MOOC on global health 

For further information, please contact:
Assistant Professor Helena Nordenstedt
Department of Public Health Sciences 
+46 70 962 5170

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Its vision is to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health. Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country´s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.


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