Rethinking Global Health

The second edition of the student-led Global Health seminar was about ‘Rethinking Global Health’.

Global health and its context have evolved radically in recent decades with globalization, population growth, and technological evolutions. In an increasingly complex world, global threats have a multifaceted impact and can exacerbate inequity. The seminar ‘Rethinking Global Health’ aimed to highlight novel approaches that can inspire professionals from different disciplines to understand and address these wicked problems.

Sustainability Thinking in global health

A common problem with global health interventions is their abundance of good intentions and efforts, but lack of sustainability. How can we ensure that the interventions are sustainable over time and that unforeseen side effects are reduced? Looking at global health interventions from a justice perspective can be helpful. Who benefits and who is harmed? What is the power balance between different stakeholders in decision-making? Are all parties recognized in their particular knowledge and position?

Bottom-up thinking in global health

A widely accepted assumption when discussing global health governance is that the lack of a ‘global government structure’ with coercive power is a problem in achieving our goals. International conventions with mandatory goals are ‘the next best thing’. But is it, are they? Wouldn’t a bottom-up approach with the possibility of policy diffusion be more sustainable and timely?

Complexity Thinking in global health

Linear causal thinking, promoted by Western empiricist scientific thinking, is responsible for much of the progress in recent history. Nevertheless, with the rise of global problems, like climate change and the recent pandemic, the importance of systems and complexity thinking is becoming increasingly evident. How can we apply these approaches when thinking about global health interventions? How can we take a complex context into account without drowning in it?

Venue: University Foundation, Egmontstraat / Rue d’Egmont 11 – 1000 Brussels, BELGIUM



Introduction ‘The importance of rethinking Global Health’ by Prof. Kristien Michielsen (UGent)

Keynote speech on complexity thinking by Prof. Jean Macq (UCLouvain)

Keynote speech on sustainability thinking by Prof. Nidhi Nagabhatla (UNU-CRIS)

Video speech by Dr. Rene Loewenson, Dr. Prashanth N S, Prof. Abimbola and Prof. Kapilashrami

Keynote speech on bottom-up thinking by Prof. Gorik Ooms (HERW!N)

Student speech by Tom Cornu (MGH Alumnus)

Panel discussion with Prof. Jean Macq, Prof. Nidhi Nagabhatla, Prof. Gorik Ooms and Dr. Hedwig Deconinck


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