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2020-2021 Academic Year Kicks Off in Blended-Learning Mode Under Shadow of COVID-19 Pandemic

25 students from 14 countries have enrolled in the Master of Global Health and the Master of Clinical Research: International Health Track

Photo: Cottonbro / Pexels

Last week saw the start of the 2020-2021 academic year for the Master of Global Health and the Master of Clinical Research: International Health Track. However, for the first time ever, the Global Health programme unable to begin the year with an in-person format, so a blended-learning format was devised that combines online classes with face-to-face sessions.

The health crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the teaching staff to design a virtual classroom equipped with all the necessary resources, since in-person teaching would have exceeded the room capacity limit allowed by current regulations at the University of Barcelona. Using the new virtual tools, students will be able to follow the first three subjects of the programmes just as they would in a classroom setting.

“From the outset, our goal has been to continue offering the programmes in their entirety, both in face-to-face and blended-learning formats, with the hope that as soon as possible we will be able to meet again in the physical classroom,” commented Núria Casamitjana, Training and Education Director at ISGlobal.

During the last quarter of the 2019-2020 academic year, the teaching staff and coordinators had the opportunity to build virtual learning environments and improve the online teaching model of the programmes using various learning platforms, including BB Collaborate, which is integrated into the virtual campus of the University of Barcelona. “We feel prepared and eager to continue training new generations of global health professionals, especially given the current circumstances,” commented Casamitjana.

Although the pandemic poses great academic challenges, it also represents a great opportunity for our students to experience the efforts that ISGlobal’s professionals have put into addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The ninth edition of the programmes will include a total of 25 students from 14 countries. Specifically, the Master of Global Health will have 18 students and the Master of Clinical Research: International Health Track will have seven students.

Opening Lecture by Jaime Sepúlveda

Professor Jaime Sepúlveda will give the traditional opening lecture, entitled “The New Plague: What Have We Learned?”, online at 4:00 pm on 8 October.

Prof Jaime Sepúlveda, the Haile T. Debas Distinguished Professor of Global Health, has been the Executive Director of the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences for the last nine years. A member of the Chancellor’s Executive Cabinet, he leads a team of over 350 faculty and staff. Prof Sepúlveda worked for more than two decades in a variety of senior health posts in the Mexican government.

After graduating from Harvard University, where he obtained two masters and a doctoral degree in public health, he became Mexico’s Director-General of Epidemiology. At age 36, he was appointed Vice-Minister of Health. For almost a decade, he was Director-General of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and Dean of the National School of Public Health. From 2003 to 2006, he served as Director of the National Institutes of Health of Mexico. From 2007 to 2011, Prof Sepúlveda was a member of the Foundation Leadership Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In that role, he designed and led the Mesoamerican Health Initiative, a result-based financing mechanism involving 8 countries and over $250 million. He also served as the Gates Foundation representative to Gavi and was elected Vice-Chair of the Gavi Board.

Additionally, Prof Sepúlveda is an experienced implementer of effective health programmes. He designed Mexico’s Universal Vaccination Programme, which eliminated polio, measles and diphtheria by achieving universal childhood immunisation coverage. He also modernised the national health surveillance system, created the National Health Surveys System and founded Mexico’s National AIDS Council. Prof Sepúlveda served for six years as an elected member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Sepúlveda has maintained a close relationship with ISGlobal since its creation, as a member and president of the Institute's International Global Health Partnership Board.