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School of Public Health

Professor's Public Health Course Will Reach Students Both at UAlbany and in Vietnam

Diane Dewar Receives Grant from Vietnam Education Foundation

A busy street in and around Hanoi Medical University, where public health professor Diane Dewar will visit and teach students via videoconferencing this fall.

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 10, 2011) – A University at Albany expert in the fields of public health and health policy has been chosen one of six American scholars to teach at Vietnamese universities during the coming academic year.

Diane Dewar, associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor and chair in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior at UAlbany's School of Public Health (SPH), will teach the graduate course "Introduction to Public Health: A Global Experience" via videoconferencing simultaneously to students at SPH and the Hanoi Medical University (HMU) during the fall semester.

The Tuesday and Thursday 8 to 9:30 p.m. scheduling of the course in Albany will accommodate early rising (7 – 8:30 a.m.) HMU students in Hanoi.

Dewar's initiative is being funded by the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) as part of its U.S. Faculty Scholar (USFS) Grant Program. Her grant includes two-week visits to HMU at both the beginning and after the conclusion of the semester.

"The experience for both the Vietnamese and American students will be beneficial in fostering greater understanding of methods and principles of analysis of public health issues and delivery systems, as well as of students from across the globe," said Dewar.

Hanoi Medical University students
Hanoi Medical University Students pose for a photo during a recent visit by School of Public Dean Philip Nasca and Carol Whittaker, director of SPH's Center for Global Studies.

The course has three goals, she said: help students understand what public health is and its importance; illustrate how public health functions by discussing issues currently confronting the nation and the global community; and encourage students to consider public health dimensions in their medical careers.

Dewar will visit Hanoi from Sept. 8 – 17 to help HMU faculty establish the course and to meet with various ministries and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam. While there, she will videoconference the course back to her SPH students. At the end of December into January, she will return for two weeks to assign grades, do a debriefing/assessment of the course, and help integrate the course permanently into the HMU curriculum.

"While I have not visited Vietnam yet, SPH Dean Philip Nasca and Carol Whittaker, the director of our school's Center for Global Studies, have made numerous trips to Hanoi universities," said Dewar. "Their efforts piqued my interest in the geographic region and allowed me to establish linkages and formal agreements with the Hanoi Medical University."

Since the course would be delivered in English, as per the grant specifications, the inclusion of American students will also assist in the development of conversational skills for the Vietnamese students. Dewar will include face-to-face sessions in the course between students and teachers, UAlbany and HMU teachers, and American and Vietnamese students through traditional videoconferencing, Skype sessions and an online component.

The U.S. Faculty Scholar Program contributes to the VEF mission of bringing the U.S. and Vietnam closer through educational exchanges related to science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and technology. Including the 2011-12 awards, VEF has provided grants to 17 U.S. Faculty Scholars since 2008.

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