RCEs Srinagar and Greater Western Sydney Collaborate in Academic Pursuits

Following on from the success of the ‘Global Perspectives Series Webinar – Health and Sustainability: Ensuring Healthy Lives’ held on 8 May, 2018, RCEs Srinagar and Greater Western Sydney have further strengthened their collaboration.

Western Sydney University (WSU) recently placed two of their third year students undertaking a BHSc (Public Health) course with RCE Srinagar to undertake an internship. The students were situated in Western Sydney and connected with RCE Srinagar via online mediums (such as Zoom and Skype) and participated in the administration and evaluation of programs of RCE Srinagar. WSU has been seeking placement partnerships with like-minded organisations for their new ‘desk top’ Public Health placement programme to enable their students to gain a global and/or rural experience in the public health arena that would normally be intangible.

Over the 10-week long internship, from October to December 2018, the student interns completed 140 hours of placement time towards RCE Srinagar’s dedicated projects, including programmes currently run by RCE Srinagar, as well as organisational activities like literature searches, web meetings, electronic promotional activities, documentation, IEC material and training modules development.

Two case studies, Herbs for Health and Rural Sanitation and ‘Open Defecation Free’ Environment contributed by RCE Srinagar to the UNU-IAS publication Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being For All were taken up by the student interns to work further on them. As part of the internship, the students provided a small evaluation, evidence-based recommendations of the designated programme they worked on, and built ongoing partnerships with WSU academics.

RCE Srinagar placed the interns on its ongoing public health programme, with the supervisor from RCE Srinagar, Dr. Abdhesh Kumar Gangwar guiding the interns, meeting with them via Zoom (an online medium) weekly for the first four weeks and then fortnightly. Outside these meetings, communication took place through emails and WhatsApp messages.

Throughout the internship, the supervisor completed a learning assessment and journal with the students. Feedback from the students was positive, and the collaboration helped both RCEs, with WSU now planning to place their PG students for the internship with RCE Srinagar too. The two RCEs hope to continue this successful collaboration with more projects planned.

From WSU and RCE Greater Western Sydney the internship placement was facilitated by Dr. Catharine Fleming, Lecturer Public Health, School of Science & Health and Ms. Jen Dollin, Manager, Sustainability. Mr. Matthew Frangi worked on ‘Water Sustainability, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): Open Defecation in Rural India’ and Ms. Aylen Arabu worked on ‘Communicating for conservation, cultivation and sustainable utilization of medicinal and aromatic plants for improving health security of people living in remote rural India’.