The Oslo Medical Corpus (OMC) is designed to support research-led educational programmes in modern medicine and global health delivered by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, as well as activities organized in collaboration with partners at the European University Alliance Circle U. It is also envisaged as a freely accessible resource from which the entire international academic community can benefit, especially students, researchers and clinicians faced with the requirement to incorporate sustainability values and principles into comprehensive medical decisions. Currently under construction, the OMC is designed as a large suite of electronic corpora running into millions of words of authentic medical and medical-related texts that are sourced from many different parts of the world, and from both institutional and non-institutional sites. Our initial focus is on English because although it has not always been the primary language of science, it now constitutes its lingua franca, lending discourses which have emerged in English-speaking contexts considerable global influence. The corpus will however be extended in future to provide access to similar texts in other languages, further allowing SHE to fulfil its mission of incorporating global social, economic and environmental concerns into its educational agenda.
SHE believes in promoting innovative, research-led and digitally-supported educational strategies that can allow students to explore paradoxes and challenges freely, within an open, supportive learning environment, and on the basis of empirical evidence. Our point of departure is that effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in higher education requires robust engagement with the controversies they continue to generate globally rather than uncritical agreement on their content as understood within limited local spaces. SHE therefore invests in developing and adopting teaching strategies that foster collaborative critical reflection rather than uncritical knowledge acquisition and application. Part of this strategy involves providing access to resources and tools that can enable a new generation of students to analyze power structures in healthcare empirically, at a global level, and to offer multicultural and interdisciplinary learning spaces for understanding ethical dilemmas related to the implementation of the SDGs through productive (rather than antagonistic) disagreement.
The OMC and accompanying visualization software currently being developed by SHE are central to realizing these educational aims. For example, activities modelled on hackathons (events in which diverse professionals work together on software development) will allow the collective analysis of corpus data in the classroom. Similar to hackathons, our datathons will bring experts from different disciplines (in this case students) together in teams over a short period to tackle complex questions based on collective, live analysis of data. Designed as part of the Circle U Chair of Global Health agenda, they will promote empirically-informed reflection and debate and enhance students’ analytical skills. Datathons are envisaged as student-led, highly interactive and will consist of live, hands-on, brainstorming sessions in which students will interrogate the OMC and be exposed to different and novel interpretations of the data arising from their own analysis or the analysis of other datathon participants. They will be trialled and implemented into the study programmes at the Faculty of Medicine (including the planned honours certificate in sustainability education) and in collaboration with Circle U partners.
SHE’s educational agenda also includes organizing training the trainer workshops in which students and staff will be coached in conducting corpus-based analysis. The OMC will ultimately offer an open access and continuously evolving resource for students and researchers at SHE, Circle U universities, and beyond.