Global Health Challenge 2022/23

The University’s award winning Global Health Challenge is restarting in 2022/23 following a break due to Covid. We are inviting students from our eight schools to work together across 6 teams to design innovative and entrepreneurial solutions for the global issues of climate change, sustainability and public health. The aim being to improve social, cultural, physical and mental wellbeing.

With growing awareness of how climate change and sustainability impact on health, our challenges for Global Health Challenge 2023 (GHC23) have a sustainability focus. This links with the University’s strategic themes of net zero and climate, population health and wealth and equality and inclusion and also Dundee City Council’s Sustainable Dundee strategy.

Our partners for GHC23 are Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside, The Green Health Partnership, DUSA and for the first time University departments and an academic school. Participating students will get an opportunity to work with one of these organisations to design innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to tackle real challenges that are faced by individuals, families and communities.

When is GHC23

Launching on Wednesday 25 January, GHC23 involves a commitment over five consecutive Wednesday afternoons culminating in a Pecha Kucha session where each team will present their challenge project on Wednesday 22 February 2023.

What’s in it for me

The Global Health Challenge is a great opportunity to learn from other students, staff and the local community, to problem solve, be creative and develop new skills. Students who’ve taken part in previous years have gone onto to complete the Elevator Accelerator programme run by the UoD Centre for Entrepreneurship to develop their concepts and solutions further. Others have gained invaluable experience through unique volunteering opportunities and been invited to present their projects and raise awareness to a variety of different audiences including senior representatives in the local tourist industry and at the University’s annual Discovery Days.

How can I take part in GHC23

GHC23 is open to all 2nd or 3rd year students across the University as well as BMSc students and 1st year Health Sciences students. If you’d like to take part in this year’s Global Health Challenge please tell us a little about yourself by completing our application form.   

The deadline for applications has been extended to 23:00h on Monday 12 December 2022 and we will confirm your place by 14 December. 

You can find out more about our upcoming challenges and previous Global Health Challenges and hear about the Open Ears team’s experience of doing the GHC and the idea they developed.  

If you have any queries about the application process, please email Natalie Lafferty at  

Creating personas and empathy mapping.

After conversations with the groups last week, we thought it would be useful to provide you with some helpful tools in your journey towards innovation. It is important when tackling these big challenges to approach them with fresh perspectives. In order to be innovative you must firstly understand the motivations and needs of your user(s) and importantly, be able to empathise with these motivations and needs.

Personas and empathy maps are important tools in creating empathy with your user(s).      A persona is a fictional character, created through research and audience interaction, that represents a typical user for a product or service. Creating personas is a way to better understand your audience and stakeholders, allowing for specific focus on “who this is for.” Creating personas also helps to challenge existing  assumptions about users or groups along the way. Creating personas helps you to consider the motivations of your users, and focus on a human centered approach to challenges. As a group you might like to create a persona or personas shaped by your visits to your organisation and its users.

This 3 minute watch on personas provides context on what personas are; why they are important tools and how to use them…

“Personas are the handle you use to grab hold of what you learned from your research. They humanize the context, background, and motivations of your users.” Alan Cooper
To create your own personas download the Nesta Persona sheet here:

Empathy mapping is another incredibly valuable tool in understanding users. The value of empathy mapping is that it allows you to gain a rich understanding of your users and spot new areas of opportunity.  By mapping out what users say, do, think and feel, we can begin to better understand our users and empathise with their actions and thoughts.

As a group you could discuss and map out; What did your user say? Did anything stick out as a quote or phrase? What actions and behaviors did you observe? What might your user be thinking about? What does this tell you about your user? And; what emotions might your user be feeling?

Some useful links for creating personas:

Some useful links for getting started with empathy mapping:

Global Health Challenge wins Herald HE Award

The Global Health Challenge (GHC) saw success at the Herald Higher Education Awards in Glasgow on 28th June when it was announced the winner of the Enhancing Student Learning Award.  Members of GHC co-ordinating team were delighted to receive the award from former University of Dundee Rector, Fred MacAulay.

Student feedback over the past two years has highlighted how much they love the interdisciplinary approach of the GHC and how they value and appreciate the input and support from academics and our agency partners and their clients.  Many students have commented on how the GHC has increased their connection with Dundee and given them a desire to give something back to the local community.  Working on real life problems, being able to develop their creativity and continuing to volunteer has seen the GHC develop into a rich and unique learning experience.  It’s therefore fantastic to see the GHC be recognised with the Enhancing Student Learning Award, sponsored by the Quality Assurance Agency.

The GHC co-ordinating team would like to thank all the local agencies that have contributed to the Global Health Challenge over the past two years.  The GHC and this award wouldn’t have been possible without their enthusiastic and dedicated contributions.  Thanks too to academic colleagues from across the University for their support with mentoring and sponsoring challenge projects.

We’re looking forward to our third year of the GHC and plans are underway for the launch of GHC18 in October.


Peer to Peer Learning – Open Ears

2016 saw the launch of the University of Dundee’s Global Health Challenge, and in 2017 as part of the Induction we invited ‘Open Ears’ to present their project and its process.

Open Ears were voted the winners of 2016 by all of the GHC 2016 participants, rather than a small panel of “expert judges”. In this way the decision was unanimous and wholesomely democratic.

Here is their final idea as captured in a short 8 minute film, with a short Q&A session with some members of the team to help others with their future journey.


Pecha Kucha

The Global Health Challenge culminates in a series of Pecha Kucha presentations given by each team, showcasing their process and idea(s) for making a change and having an impact.

In this post we offer a brief introduction to the presentation format known as ‘Pecha Kucha’ with helpful links to find further information.

‘What is Pecha Kucha 20×20?’

PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

Powerpoint is advised as it is easy to set-up so that the images advance automatically.

Preparation is key and rehearsals are necessary.

Further Information about Pecha Kucha and examples of them, can be found at: Their Daily Blog is filled with inspiring examples


Helpful Tips when Preparing a Pecha Kucha for GHC

1. Practice, Practice, Practice! Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!

Share and feedback with your team as you build. Be inclusive, but keep that balanced. Decisions need to be made (within the short time frame you have) in order to create a completed Pecha Kucha.  It takes practice to ensure the image/information on your slide connects with the point you are verbally making, and how each slide connects to each other to create a story and a great presentation. Time literally runs away! The more you practice and rehearse, the better prepared and more confident you will become.

2. Reflect

Consider your experiences over the weeks, sift and edit through them to include the most relevant ones and the unexpected insights.

3. Have fun! Take regular short breaks

While time can be short and a few things to juggle…don’t be scared to walk away from the computer for 10 minutes while you are creating your Pecha Kucha before coming back to it. Things can often make more sense once you’ve had some fresh air/ time away/food/drink.

4. Start Building Early

You’ve gained lots of experiences and insights over the past few weeks in the GHC. These  you can be used to help build and develop the front end of your team presentation, whilst the final touches to your are being made to the conclusion/end output of the innovative idea.

5. Be confident!

Much of the hard work has been done. As you prepare to create your PK, remember the task is to share your story.


Good Luck!!

Let’s Create a Culture of Collaboration

“Create a Collaborative Mind-set”


As GHC17 problem solvers, you’ve been tasked in identifying insights and opportunities to bring about positive change for real people experiencing very real and complex issues. Key to the success of this will be teamwork.

Let’s look to IDEO co-founder David Kelly for some advice whilst working towards innovation as multidisciplinary teams:

  1. Every team member should be given the same amount of respect
  2. Take advantage of individual skill sets: throw egos out the window
  3. Embrace the opportunity afforded by bringing together people with different backgrounds and expertise – you’ll have more resources, insight, and experience to draw from

In other words, let’s create a culture of collaboration and recognise the strengths afforded to your teams brought by the various backgrounds and fields of your members. The next five weeks are yours to explore, discover and ideate and embracing the opportunity to do this together will really make your project sing.

Building on this thinking and echoing some of the advice shared by GHC16 winners Open Ears in our induction session, here are some final top tips from your GHC facilitators for successful teamwork:

  • COMMUNICATE: Establish and use somewhere central, like Facebook or the GHC webmail platform to communicate with your group. Share where you’re at and discuss progress in between meetings.
  • BE MINDFUL of the commitment you have made to the team. It is good professional practice to give this your full attention – if meetings are arranged, attend them. 
  • PROJECT PLAN & DELEGATE: Compile a task list – who does what and when?
  • PREPARE for your final presentation. Make sure every team member is clear on their role within the presentation and collect and compile visuals to communicate your project well.

Global Health Challenge 2017 is Go!

Day one of 2017’s Global Health Challenge kicked off with vim and vigour this week as students, sponsors and staff considered challenges from eight innovative local organisations; The Archie Foundation; Deaf Links; Dundee International Women’s Centre; Faith in Community; Hearing Voices Network Dundee; PAMIS; Parkinson’s UK; and NHS Tayside Primary Care Services. Applicants from across the University’s nine schools gathered to discover, question and ruminate eight impactful challenges about health and wellbeing. Tasked with tackling issues such as awareness, stigma, and understanding, these challenges invite this year’s problem solvers to focus on being empathic and ‘walk for a little in someone else’s shoes’ to create products or tools, spaces or services that promote, support and enable healthier futures.

Working in DUSA’s Air Bar for the afternoon, the fantastic Linsay Duncan led our ice-breaker and energised us with something a little different; Northern Soul Dancing! We learned how to jump and spin and to ‘Keep on, keeping on’; valuable training in going forward over the next five weeks of the GHC as we strive to be agile, focused and dedicated in addressing the challenges posed.

Invigorated from dancing, we then heard from the eight project sponsors as they pitched and framed challenges inspired by the work they do and the real people they work with. Coming together in a BarCamp style we worked on being present, questioning our experts, contributing to discussion and generating questions and key themes to begin to explore each challenge. We worked quickly as students’ self-selected four challenges to investigate, capturing key words, themes and questions on post-its, which were then clustered together to build a picture of the problems faced. We then took some time to reflect and recap before students identified and signed up to the challenges they will work on for the duration of the GHC. The final formed groups consist of around seven members who represent various disciplines from across the University including; Art and Design, Dentistry, Education and Social Work, Humanities, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Life Sciences, Science and Engineering and Social Sciences. These groups worked with their project sponsors to curate a set of initial questions and inquiries to drive their thinking over the next week, the aim being to begin to develop understanding of their subject area, of their group mates and of how they will work together during this creative process.

We then heard from last year’s GHC winners, Open Ears, who created a toolkit that aims to educate and raise awareness of the everyday issues experienced by people who are hard of hearing. Team members Alice, Charlie and Simran shared lessons learned and advice with this year’s cohort including; Visit your partner organisations as soon as possible to better inform understanding and collaborate with experts; Outline weekly goals and make the most of your Wednesday afternoon GHC sessions together; Communicate in between meetings using tools like Facebook; and Plan for your final presentations early as you want this to fully represent your hard work.

To close, Alice of Open Ears, shared the inspiring evolution of the team’s project since winning GHC16. Following their final presentation, Open Ears secured funding to further develop their prototype working with NHS Tayside and Deaf Hub. Through this Alice has successfully iterated the Open Ears toolkit and attained a Top 5 position in Converge Challenge 2017. This experience has not only helped to develop the toolkit to the benefit of its’ future users but also afforded Alice the opportunity to undertake entrepreneurial training and showcase the toolkit to a wider audience. There is much to be learned from Alice and her fellow Open Ears members. See Alice’s blog for more of this story:

And on this particular high note, the Induction session wrapped up leaving the teams armed with inspiration and energy for their first week of GHC17.

A visual snapshot of the session:

Good to See You – Welcome to GHC!


Welcome everyone to Global Health Challenge!

It is a delight to welcome you. My name is Louise and I am one of a large team across the University who have joined together to design and make happen the Global Health Challenge. You’ll get to meet and work with the team as the afternoon and challenge progresses.

First, let me tell you a little bit about Global Health Challenge.

Global Health Challenge is a glimpse of the future; it’s a change agent with a concern about doing things differently. It is about challenging the norm. We’re here to raise the game, to raise your game, and ours. We’re doing that by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, to work in new ways and with people we’ve not worked with before. Everything about this initiative is voluntary, and that is what makes it such a compelling story. We’re here to do some good.

Let me share with you an interesting fact, the world population is forecast to increase by two-thirds in the 21st Century. Did you know that? For me it’s the call to action that has impacted most. Let me tell you why. In the 19th Century there were 1 billion people on the planet. In 2017 there are just over 7.6 billion, and by the end of the 21st century it is expected to be over 12 million. This is an exorbitantly high rate of growth with an extra 50 million people added to the Earth’s population, each year.

How does this connect to the Global Health Challenge? Every single person on the planet requires help with their health. This population scenario requires us – you and I – to very carefully, sensitively yet radically rethink ‘normal’.

What I’m saying is, Global Health Challenge has an entrepreneurial character – it’s not about teaching you to become an entrepreneur – but you could use it to help with that, if you wish.

Our commitment to you is to help you stand out from the crowd, to afford you opportunities to develop discovery, to think, be enterprising, to let you fail and get things wrong, and to work with you to understand how to fix it. It’s also to respectfully tell you to get over yourself if one of your ideas isn’t taken up by the team, because teamwork is what is needed. We’re committed to building your agility, resilience and your capacity to empathise with the world around you. Why? So that, should you chose to, you may lead, manage, innovate, and excel in your future professional worlds. These skills enhance the likelihood that you will identify and capture the right opportunity at the right time for the right reason.

Every single person in this space is formidable. You have something unique and very special to bring to the challenge we are about to embark upon.  We really want you to do something great! We will do everything we can to help facilitate your journey.



With thanks to Professor Heidi Neck, Babson College USA, for inspiring this welcome.

All set for Global Health Challenge 2017

Following the success of the 2016 Global Health Challenge (GHC) we’re ready to get started with a set of new challenges for GHC17.  It’s fair to say we were overwhelmed by the creativity, energy and inspiration of our students to tackle the six challenges set last year and we’re  excited to see how this year’s challenge projects develop.

We’re delighted to see some of last year’s project sponsors, Deaf Links, Hearing Voices and PAMIS join us again with a fresh set of challenges.  It’s also great to welcome five new project sponsors, the Archie Foundation, Dundee International Women’s Centre, Faith in Community, Parkinson’s UK and NHS Tayside Primary Care Services.  With eight challenges this year there’s an opportunity for more students take part.

GHC17 kicks off on 18 October when our project sponsors will present their challenges to our students.  Following the short challenge pitches, students will get an opportunity to dig a little deeper into each of them and outline the key questions that relate to them.  They’ll then get an opportunity to see the outputs of each groups’ discussions before deciding which challenge they want to work on.  Once the teams have formed and started to outline the first steps of their projects they’ll get the chance to hear from one of GHC16’s teams, Open Ears.  Working with the Deaf Hub, Open Ears went on to develop a practical simulation kit to be used as a part of basic face-to-face awareness training with medical and frontline staff across a wide range of services.  We’ll be posting more about Open Ears in the next few days.

We’ll be posting an update following our launch event tomorrow and further updates over the next five weeks of the the GHC17. In the meantime to find out more about the GHC17 challenges browse the links on our 2017 challenges page.


Facilitator as Learner: 3 Key Take-Aways

The Global Health Challenge 2016 brought together students from across the nine schools of University of Dundee to work together to design innovative and entrepreneurial solutions for the wicked problem of health equality, aiming to improve social, cultural and physical wellbeing. As a design researcher exploring new and novel ways of supporting older people through loneliness, I was invited to co-facilitate one of six themes set by the GHC; ‘Social Isolation in the Elderly’. Working with Dr Louise Valentine and a team of six skilled students who are undertaking a range of specialisms (Medicine, Dentistry, Humanities, Product Design and Community Learning and Development), I was keen to understand this hugely impactful social issue through the lenses of their different disciplines and experiences, to learn their motivations for designing for this theme and indeed, to gain deeper insight from challenge sponsor Dial-Op.

The team were brought together by their shared interest or concern for social isolation and loneliness in the elderly. Two team members cited their own grandparents in igniting their interest, another, their fears for our growing ageing population and indeed their future selves, and another student saw opportunity to apply their knowledge of inclusive design to the project. Naming themselves, Team OAPortunity, I was invigorated by both their pluck and sense of fun; both important qualities in supporting people who are isolated or lonely through negative, difficult and often sensitive experiences.

Team OAPortunity using empathy tools to tune into the lives and experiences of their users.
Team OAPortunity using empathy tools to tune into the lives and experiences of their users.

Over the next four weeks, we worked with the team to discover the current landscape of loneliness and isolation, exploring issues at play within society at large – the team were abhorred that 40% of 75 year olds in the UK name television as their primary source of company – and locally with great support from sponsor Dundee Dial-Op’s Lali Tudela. In addition to this, one team member’s chance new acquaintance with an older woman who spoke freely about her own very real experiences of loneliness and isolation was particularly impactful, ‘hitting home’ the team’s understanding and grounding their thinking. We sought facts and opportunity throughout the research process, challenging assumptions and stereotypes by using a series of design methods to continually question and reframe findings. This process was at times sticky, with a tendency to rely on anecdotal knowledge and propel too-soon towards solutions before fully interrogating an idea or issue. In reflection I think that the team would agree with and acknowledge the gains of compelling themselves to re-immerse within this iterative process of questioning despite the intensity. I feel that this culture of questioning – which session leaders Louise Valentine and Natalie Lafferty established in Week One – really benefitted the teams’ ability to reflect upon and shape their ideas and this resulted in the delivery of an insightful concept at the close of the challenge in Week Five; an elective ‘caring and sharing’ module for first and second year students to spend time with older people in the community, swapping stories, skills and spending quality time together. Arriving at this solution by combining their own previous experiences and hopes for future elective modules and the noted successes of intergenerational activity in building social connectedness and capital, Team OAPortunity presented a strong case for their mutually beneficial enterprise.

We encountered a series of challenges during the facilitation of the GHC and given the ambitious nature of the project, this is to be expected. As facilitators we draw upon previous experience and methods to react to and attend to the challenges faced, supporting the development of new solutions. 

1. Challenging Assumptions

As a society we can be guilty of making assumptions about the pathways, experiences and needs of individuals who are facing difficult issues such as those explored by the GHC. Team OAPortunity brought some assumptions about loneliness and isolation to the fore, including ‘Older people are lonely or isolated because they have no friends their own age’ and ‘Social networking prevents feelings of loneliness or isolation for older people’. Further reading and discussion revealed that these negative experiences are subjective – each individual experience is unique – and that successful solutions will derive from genuine insights and opportunities about the lives of older people and the reasons they feel lonely or isolated in the first instance rather than deploying ‘blanket’ or ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions. 

Take-Away 1: We can attend to assumptions by revisiting the literature in our field and credible sources for hard data and statistics to ground our thinking in fact.

2. The Culture of Communication & Sharing

My own professional practice has taught me the importance of transparency, communication and sharing in cultivating a positive team working culture and in dealing with complexity but this was an issue for our team during the GHC. In discussion, factors such as unfamiliarity with online collaboration tools, misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities and concerns about ‘getting it wrong’ were highlighted. These are not atypical challenges and indeed we explored solutions for these as a group. We asked each team member to define their role from the perspective of their discipline to establish confidence and accountability within the team and joined the team’s preferred chosen mode of communication – a Facebook group – to support them in between sessions. 

Take-Away 2: Early establishment and agreement of roles, responsibilities and communication strategies can support team dynamics and expectations and produce higher quality project deliverables.

Empowering Students as Influencers of Change (Now and in the Future)

It is tricky to reflect in practice, particularly at speed, but this challenge was a great opportunity for students to attune their skills in working reflexively and consider the meaningful impact they can affect. As facilitators we used various activity sheets and visualisation methods to chart problems through research and development and the perceived impact of potential solutions. We also encouraged the team to not only question their sponsor organisation but to use them as a sounding board to explore, critique and validate their ideas. Tapping in to the knowledge, skills and expertise of Dial-Op helped the team to very quickly make decisions and shape their design direction. 

Take-Away 3: Gaining feedback from experts in the field throughout the research and design process can be key in inspiring and driving innovation and also, in identifying personal skills, interests and goals. I would encourage students to continue to discuss their thoughts and ideas widely and with a range of different stakeholders to fuel their ideas.

In closing, this GHC certainly packed a punch; students – and staff – were working live with sponsor organisations, learning not only about the ways they strive to improve the experiences of their service users, but to also gain a deep understanding of the subject matter themselves and uncovering areas of opportunity within this complexity. Not to mention tackling proof of concept and finally pitching ideas in a Pecha Kucha style – unfamiliar to most before this event. And whilst I think it is fair to say that each and every team were truly challenged by their GHC journeys, I’d like to commend them and their challenge sponsors for their hard work and dedication in delivering some truly exciting concepts at the close of the challenge. A pleasure to have worked with you all.