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Thursday, August 6 • 13:30 - 14:00
Exploring Systems Thinking Approaches to Developing Action Research Guidelines in a Doctorate of Public Health Program

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Based at the University of Illinois at Chicago,  the Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) online program is focused on leadership for mid-career working professionals.  This is distance education, but with synchronous classes and individual attention intensive.  Many of our students are already in leadership positions, such as heading local public health departments, or working in key positions in federal and international agencies; we attempt to give them a broader, more systemic and flexible view of  research and actions they can both instigate and participate in, under an 'adaptive leadership' and action learning rather than a positional leadership approach, or an approach where research is separate from action. 'Systems thinking' is one of our core principles and competencies: We have been working on introducing and integrating systems approaches public health leaders are less familiar with, such as soft systems, into our curriculum. (They are more familiar with systems dynamics derived approaches, e.g. Donella Meadows and Peter Senge.)  The core faculty group has been re-working the curriculum to build student competency in methods of action research as an approach to the DrPH dissertation.  This has emerged from a strong student desire to frame their work as action research, and to emphasize research relevance as much as rigor. This has presented several challenges for us: 1) clarifying what action research 'is' (beyond action learning, which we introduce in our first year) as an approach to empirical inquiry in a leadership program, and how we might draw on diverse traditions of action research from other fields (e.g. education and anthropology);  2) how we frame action research for audiences more used to positivistic approaches to research, which includes not only many public health colleagues but our university's Institutional Review Board;  3) how to  draw boundaries around cycles of reflection and action in ongoing work, and delimit the dissertation project, to make the research achievable in a feasible time period; and 4) how to guide the students in building collaborative and participatory research relationships in an action research context.  Systems thinking based principles and approaches are useful in responding  to all these challenges, from serving as a core theory for building conceptual frameworks to structuring participation and communicating a feasible dissertation proposal.

Presenter / Artist

Eve Pinsker

epinsker@uic.edu, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
ISSS Regular

Thursday August 6, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany