In order to explore European health and social care systems through an occupational lens, three universities partnered in an Erasmus funded initiative entitled ‘Making Internationalisation a Reality for Occupational Therapy Students’ (MIROTS). Through MIROTS, Lund University (Sweden), University of Southampton (UK), and the National University of Ireland, Galway, (Ireland), collaborated to develop the skills of emerging occupational therapy practitioners in negotiating, partnering and advocating for the rights of socially excluded groups in European society.
This project showcases how occupational science can inform occupational therapy education in preparing students for working in partnership with European citizens who are experiencing occupational injustices.
By drawing on lived experiences, the aim of this project was to a) enable students to explore and compare similarities and differences in education, health and social care systems, b) apply occupational science concepts to real situations through authentic learning and advocacy skills, and c) initiate ideas for an occupational therapy intervention.
Occupational science concepts risk becoming abstract without application, unless students can ground conceptual discoveries in real-world contexts.
Authentic learning enables students to apply concepts and constructs through collaboration, problem solving and the lived experience. In this project, this included community learning, personalised learning and project-based learning through partnering with community groups in each participating country.
The MIROTS project deepened student understanding about occupational science principles and made them passionate advocates for the marginalised groups with which they partnered over the three years of the project. Other outcomes included a) developing an appreciation of differing policy and practices in each country and their impact or contribution to occupational injustice, b) skills in working collaboratively across countries using technology, and c) a greater understanding of different cultures across Europe during periods of transition.
What are the challenges and opportunities for expansion of this European project?
How do we best capture the changes seen in students’ attitudes to occupational injustice and the impact of this on their professional identity?
How do we measure or explore the changes in students’ understanding of occupational science through this experience?