Global Health, Sustainable Development and Individual Responsibility

We are delighted to announce that our CircleU team of researchers from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE), University of Oslo, University of Belgrade, and Kings College London has been awarded funding for an Interdisciplinary Thematic Research Network on the topic of “Global Health, Sustainable Development and Individual Responsibility: contradictory or complementary concepts?”


The tension between individual responsibility and global challenges is key to the three Circle U. Knowledge Hubs (Democracy, Climate and/or Global Health). Health and climate are global issues; it is not possible to address the outbreak of pandemics or floods in one part of the globe and ignore similar events elsewhere. While addressing such issues effectively clearly requires international collaboration, the solutions are often represented as a matter of individual responsibility. The assumption is that if we all play our individual part, global problems will be resolved. But what is an ‘individual’ in today’s globalized, society? And what do we mean by ‘global’ health? The meanings of ‘global’ and ‘individual’, and their relationship with concepts such as ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘personal’, have changed over time. Despite, or perhaps because of the proliferation of fields in which they have become key concepts, such terms remain vague and inadequately conceptualized, thus posing an obstacle to fruitful interdisciplinary research. Our ITRN has a radical agenda, in the sense that it sets out to examine the conceptual roots of the tension between the ‘individual’ and the ‘global’, to understand what such concepts mean for the different stakeholders and what are the impact of such choices. The aim is to map the relationship between the individual and the global, taking global health and sustainable development as a point of departure.
A number of authors have critiqued the lack of priority accorded to the role of language in negotiating the sustainability agenda worldwide. Our project will draw on the empirical support provided by access to the Oslo Medical Corpus, further developing the novel, technology-supported methodology for the empirical study of key concepts developed by SHE (UiO) in collaboration with the Genealogies of Knowledge Research Network (GoK). Questions to be addressed using the Oslo Medical Corpus include, for example, what makes certain challenges ‘global’, and how are individual actors represented in relation to such global challenges. In order to ensure the applicability of our research beyond academia, we will invite non-academic stakeholders who work with health and environmental issues and who combine sustainable development goals with an equitable perspective. We aim to empower health professionals, grassroots health activists and civil society organizations to draw on the empirical analysis of language so as to effectively question how health discourses advance or undermine the sustainability agenda.

Our Team:


University of Oslo

PI (main applicant) Dr Gabriela Saldanha, Affiliate Researcher, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education.
CoI – Prof Eivind Engebretsen, Professor of Medical Humanities, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education.
CoI – Prof Mona Baker, Affiiate Professor, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education.


University of Belgrade

PI – Dr Ljiljana Pantović, Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory.
CoI – Dr Irena Fiket, Associate Professor, The Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.


Kings College London

PI – Dr Caitjan Gainty, Senior Lecturer in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology
CoI – Professor Btihaj Ajana, Professor of Ethics and Digital Culture