Competency-Based Curricula to Transform Global Health: Redesign With the End in Mind

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To define the education and training priorities for a new 21st-century, competency-based, global health curriculum for the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health (DGH).


In 2008 and 2009, the authors conducted 26 in-depth interviews with global health leaders. They asked interviewees to envision key roles and competencies for global health professionals at least 20 years from now. The authors also explored training approaches and recruitment priorities with the interviewees. The majority of interviews were conducted by telephone and audio-recorded. Transcriptions were analyzed and coded to identify themes.


Interviewees viewed determinants of health and systems thinking as two essential areas of knowledge; they identified analytical, leadership and management, and policy-development skills as priority skill sets. Participants emphasized that training should focus on experiential learning, on interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration, and on information analysis and synthesis.


The University of Washington’s DGH is currently revising its curriculum across programs and mapping it to interrelated competencies: (1) knowledge of social, economic, and environmental determinants of health, (2) knowledge of the architecture and levers of health, health-relevant systems, and health service delivery, (3) skills in epidemiology and in monitoring and evaluation, (4) capacity to manage and lead, and (5) skills in policy analysis and development. The curriculum, which provides evidence-based education and training in these areas, is designed with the end—global health competency in the 21st century—in mind.

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