Committed and Partisan. The IPHU is committed and partisan. It is committed to participating in the struggle for health in full recognition of the political dimensions of this struggle. It is partisan in that its curriculum, teaching and research are all oriented around the practice needs of health activists working with popular movements based in those countries, classes, castes and communities who are presently denied the right to health and who are engaged in the struggle for health. Health activists in this context includes health care practitioners, health care consumers and community members demanding the right to health.
The burden of preventable and treatable ill-health is overwhelmingly located in the developing world (poor world, third world) and the teaching and research of the IPHU must be oriented primarily around the struggle for health in the developing world.
The struggle for health in the rich world bears a complex relationship to that in the developing world. On the one hand there are excluded and marginalised communities in rich world countries who are denied the right to health through neoliberal (and neocolonial) policies which correspond closely to those being forced on the countries of the South. This provides some grounds for solidarity. On the other hand the political ideologies which naturalise the prevailing world order are largely unchallenged in the rich countries and this may present something of a barrier to building global solidarity. This has implications for the IPHU in terms of curriculum design, the location of courses and enrolment policies.
Academic Integrity. The IPHU is committed and partisan but this does not compromise the academic integrity of its teaching and research.
IPHU does not accept that academic knowledge is objective and value free. Knowledge is embedded in discourse which is structured within the wider world view of particular speakers. For many domains of knowledge, where humans share a similar perspective on the world, this is not a problem but in understanding the social world, the world of politics, economics and social institutions, our knowledges always embed the perspectives, values and aspirations of the knowers.
The ultimate test of truth is usefulness, usefulness to the subjects who know. This perspective has implications for teaching and research and differentiates IPHU courses from the conventional programs which claim to teach objective and value free knowledge.
The committed orientation of the IPHU carries with it a particular obligation to apply rigorous disciplines in teaching and research. It would not be a service to health activists nor to the people's health movement to present narrow doctrines or singular correct knowledges. One of the most important strategies for strengthening the people's health movement is to cultivate critique, innovation and systematic learning from experience.
Health activists who are engaging the World Bank, for example, need to understand deeply the fact and logic of the Bank's economists as well as recognising the ways the Bank's principal shareholders constrain what can be known within the Bank.
IPHU relies on a number of structures and strategies for safeguarding the intellectual integrity of its teaching and research. Most of the faculty of the IPHU are or have been academics within conventional universities and their work for the IPHU is generally subject to the regular disciplines of those universities. IPHU works in partnership with conventional universities and in this context is subject to the scrutiny of academics who don't necessarily share the commitments or the epistemological paradigms of the IPHU. The IPHU has a systematic quality assurance framework with respect to its teaching based on peer review, collaborative teaching and comprehensive course evaluation. Most importantly the long term success of the IPHU will depend upon its establishing a reputation across the people's health movement as an institution that is not only committed and partisan but also rigorous with respect to its academic standards.
About the Resources Library
The basic entity in the IPHU Resources Library is the ˜topic". This is an integrated package structured notionally around one to two hours of presentation plus discussion. It should lend itself to individual study or to being used in a group situation. Thus it should include some or all of:
introductory blurb about the topic;
at least one powerpoint slide presentation (with notes in the notes sections of the slides);
further reading (drawing as much as possible on internet resources; we can have pdf files for download but they will need to be password protected for copyright reasons);
assessment task (for students seeking credit);
reference to other topics in the library for follow up study.
Topics are grouped in ˜modules". Not exclusively. There are some topics which are referenced from several different modules. The module page comprises simply:
an introductory blurb about that general area;
links to the relevant topics.
We also have a page with all of the available topics listed alphabetically for direct browse and click.
This system is growing and is subject to re-organisation from time to time. There is no perfect classification system for modules and topics. It is evolving. We start with the modules and topics created for recent and forthcoming courses.
Course Planning Manual
The course planning manual provides guidance to local coordinators, course planners and facilitators and to participants. It is a working document always underdevelopment. Copies available from the Coordinator.
Module Coordinators maintain the pages, text and topic resources for that module. They are supported by volunteer developers, commenters, etc
Language Coordintors monitor webpage developments across their languages and coordinate updates or revisions to keep the sites comparable.