One Health works towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and explores how the health of humans, animals, other organisms and the environment are inextricably linked. As exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, health challenges that stem from the complex interaction between humans, animals, plants and ecosystems call for a review of existing concepts and methods. Tighter collaboration across sectors and disciplines – including life sciences, public health and social sciences – is crucial.

Arial view of students from one health Summer School

As part of the Una Europa alliance, academics across the network collaborate on initiatives in education, research and social engagement on the theme of One Health. Una Europa provides a framework for 11 European research universities to draw on collective strengths to create a truly European inter-university environment, a University of the Future.

Taking a network approach to global challenges

Rooted in this partnership, the Una Europa One Health Summer School brought together students and staff from across the partnership network and beyond to explore One Health interdisciplinary issues and work towards building solutions together. Students developed their knowledge of One Health and Planetary Health by tackling a related global challenge, working with other undergraduate students from European and International universities to develop and pitch an idea.

New paths for critical thinking

The summer school impacted the learning and work around One Health for the students who took part. KU Leuven student Ali Rizwan and summer school participate reflected on this experience:

“The One Health summer school paved new paths for critical thinking and sparked curiosity in students about the importance of One Health including planetary health along with other paradigms associated with animal and human health. The summer school brought a great mix of learning and knowledge exchange between the students and mentors from all over Europe. It was indeed a great opportunity to learn, share and execute different concepts related to humans, animals, and environmental health. Students were actively engaged in debates, presentations and working as teams to think about possible solutions related to the challenges of One Health.”

In addition to the Una Europa universities, students and academic staff from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (KNU) in Ukraine participated in the summer school. The KNU students made a special contribution to the programme by leading a session on the impact of Russia’s (illegal) war on Ukraine on worldwide gain production as well as shared their personal experiences of living through the invasion.

Name: Lisa Boden