The NOMA track module on nutrition, human rights and governance: Part 2. A transnational curriculum using a human rights-based approach to foster key competencies in nutrition professionals

  • M L Marais
  • M H McLachlan
  • W B Eide
  • Dipl Nutr


Background. In response to the challenge of the global health needs of the 21st century, four academic institutions in Norway, South Africa and Uganda,
each offering a Master’s degree in nutrition, collaboratively developed the NOrwegian MAsters (NOMA) track module on nutrition, human rights and
governance, integrating a human rights-based approach into graduate education in nutrition.

Objective. To capture students’ perceptions about the NOMA track module, focusing on the development of key competencies.

Methods. Employing a qualitative approach, 20 (91% response rate) in-depth telephonic interviews were conducted with participating students, voice
recorded and transcribed. Through an inductive process, emerging themes were used to compile a code list for content analysis of the transcribed text. Relevant themes were reported according to the professionals’ roles described by the CanMEDS competency framework.

Results. Participation in the module enhanced key competencies in the students, e.g. communication skills and the adoption of a holistic approach to
interaction with people or communities. Their role as collaborator was enhanced by their learning to embrace diversity and cultural differences and similarities. Students had to adapt to different cultures and educational systems. They were inspired to contribute in diverse contexts and act as agents for change in the organisations in which they may work or act as leaders or co-ordinators during interaction with community groups and policy makers. Higher education institutions offering transnational modules should support lecturers to manage the inherent diversity in the classroom as a way of enhancing student performance.

Conclusion. The development of future transprofessional modules will benefit from the inclusion of desirable key competencies as part of the module
outcomes by following a competency by design process.


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