207 paper

An experience with conducting a role-play in decision making for a food and nutrition policy course

Pippa Craig
Office of Teaching and Learning in Medicine
Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney

Leah Bloomfield
School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales

In 2005 post-graduate students participated in an online role-play in a distance Masters in Public Health course, Food and Nutrition Policy Studies, at the University of New South Wales. A major course outcome is for students to appreciate the political dimensions of policy formulation and to understand that it is not just a matter of researching and analysing relatively objective food and nutrition data. The strategy we chose to achieve this was a two-week online role-play, using a WebCT discussion group, in which students were assigned roles as members of an inter-sectoral national Food Policy Planning Committee. This was embedded in a realistic case study, which forms the backbone of the 14-week course. The online environment offered these distance students a real opportunity to learn about the complexity of policy negotiation. We reflect on the factors that appear to have contributed towards the success of this strategy.

Keywords: online, role-play, WebCT, policy