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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Sustainable Health

Working towards a new, better normal after COVID-19

We are currently updating our course overview for 2021-2022. The information below might be updated.

illustration of people standing on a globe, on the left a healthy environment, blue skye, trees, and on the right an unhealthy environment with factories and smoke

Where does COVID-19 come from and was it avoidable in the first place? What are its connections with the Black Lives Matter movement, and why do minority groups experience worse outcome after infection? What has been the role of health systems in coping with the pandemic?

After answering all these questions, we will discuss potential answers to the most important one: what should the ‘new, better, normal’ after COVID-19 look like?

The answer to this question depends heavily on how we want to define health, overcoming the concept of health as a commodity, advocating for it to be sustainable. Sustainable health is a new concept based on the principles of preventive medicine and sustainable health systems, equitably distributed in populations, and in harmony with the planet we live in, in order to maintain and improve the health of the generations to come. During the summer school, this concept will be explored in detail exploring the interconnectedness of preventive medicine, planetary health, social determinants of health and international governance.

swing on a beach
Ngamba Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda
Ambulance on a square in Uganda
Kiruddu Referral Hospital, Kampala, Uganda

An interactive online learning environment will be created for the students who will attend lectures and participate in a number of varied online interactive activities. The learning process will be centered on sharing experiences and peer-to-peer learning in an international and multicultural context. Students will be sent some material in advance (reading material and questions to be researched and answered) so to get ready to interact in a fruitful and engaging way with their colleagues.

This Summer School in Sustainable Health will accompany the students in a philosophical, scientific, and social journey, which will enable them to explore the interconnectedness of many contextual factors in relation to health. From structural racism to the Amazon forest burning, from the financing of health systems to the international laws regulating asylum, students will reflect on the complexity and interdependence of the many aspects of the current situation, imagining a new, better normal to advocate for.

Practical information

Dates & location 5 - 10 July 2021, online

Fees are calculated as 1/100th of the GDP per capita in 2019 in $ in the country where the student lives and works, as reported by the World Bank converted in Euros. For help in calculating the fees, please get in touch with us

Fees include remote participation to the summer school (including online social activities) and a copy of the certificate sent to the address indicated by the student

Academic coordinator

Dr Valentina Gallo, Campus Fryslân



Do you have a million questions on the countries response to COVID-19? Are you appalled by the differential mortality in COVID-19 among minorities? Are you actively advocating for a better relationship with the planet we leave in? Then, come to the Summer School in Sustainable Health to find complex but coherent answers to all of your questions.

This summer school is open to anyone with an MSc degree (or equivalent) or above. The course might be specifically interesting for students with a background in medicine or allied science, natural science, and social science and with a specific interest in exploring the concept of sustainability applied to health

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Course schedule

In the morning (Central European Time - CET), the students will attend three lectures (3 hours in total)

In the afternoon (CET), students will attend a number of interactive formative activities. Also, the students are expected to interact with one another during designated time to share the air and work in pairs/group on assigned activities.

On Saturday, an online social activity will close the week.

A detailed programme will follow.

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

  1. Define sustainable health together with its immediate corollaries
  2. Appreciate the complexity of the factors affecting global health at population level
  3. Critically appraise reasons for different distribution of COVID-19 mortality between and within populations
  4. Connect with likeminded people around the world for start building a new, better normal after COVID-19


The total workload is estimated at 56 hours, of which 36 hours are online contact time (6 hours/day)

  • Lectures: 15 hours
  • Interactive activities: 21 hours
  • Preparation time: 10 hours (mostly before the summer school)
  • Peer-to-peer online interaction: 10 hours (during the summer school week) but outside the general programme

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 56 hours (corresponding to 2ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Dr. Valentina Gallo, Rosalind Franklin Fellow, Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Sustainable Health

Valentina is a medical doctor trained as a neurologist and as an epidemiologist. She has worked in nutritional and environmental epidemiology for a long time, before getting interested in interdisciplinary approach to global health. Since joining Campus Fryslân as Rosalind Franklin Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Sustainable Health she is leading the health flagship at the Campus, and leading the development of the concept of Sustainable Health by her team.

Dr. Sepideh Yousefzadeh, assistant professor Global Health

Sepideh Yousefzadeh holds bachelors in midwifery from Shiraz University in Iran and was awarded a mid-career Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has a PhD in Governance and Policy Analysis from Maastricht University’s School of Governance. She is currently an assistant professor at Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen. Previously, she worked with international organizations and the UN, in international development in health systems in Iran and Afghanistan. Her research interests are: multidimensional wellbeing, the capability approach, evidence based policy analysis, human rights, and child development

Dr. Tim van Zuthpen, assistant professor Health & Food

Tim van Zutphen is an assistant professor in Health & Food at Campus Fryslân. He has an Msc in Biotechnology, a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology and has worked on vaccine development at Akzo Nobel. Subsequently he studied nutrient sensing and physiology of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism at the University of Graz, Austria and the University Medical Center Groningen where he still holds a position. His research interests are: the role of lifestyle and particularly nutrition in prevention and treatment of disease.

Application procedure

To apply, kindly fill out the online application form. Selection will take place after the deadline has closed, on 31 May 2021.

Please note that you will be asked to upload a CV and a letter of motivation.


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Last modified:13 September 2021 2.31 p.m.