This paper reports on some recent educational innovations on the training in public Nutrition at the University of Oslo, in the form of three independent but mutually supportive graduate/postgraduate elective courses: Global Nutrition, Nutrition and Governance, and, Nutrition and Human Rights. These courses are offered internationally in English by the Institute for Nutrition Research, School of Nutrition, Formally Known as the Nordic School of Nutrition. The main aim of the courses is to have more Universities training programs take up the critical contemporary trends that may increasingly have an impact on the food and nutrition situation globally, manifested in different ways according to circumstances.
Global Nutrition is a five-credit course, corresponding to 15 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). The course stresses the importance of applying both a historical perspective and a system approach in discussing current and changing manifestations and interpretation of "the nutrition problem." This will help students understand the shifting priorities for research and action that take place over time.
Nutrition and Governance combines aspects of nutrition policy formulation, nutrition programming, and assessment of nutritional impact of broader development initiatives. The students also get an understanding of the "micro-governance" exerted by various institutions that work with food and nutrition problems.
The Nutrition and Human Rights course brings a new notion of formalized and legally based ethics and morale and thus hope. The understanding is conveyed, given time, the existing and evolving norms, mechanisms and how procedures of the international human rights systems may gradually become internalized. This can occur through the growing number of democratic governments, most of which would have ratified the relevant international conventions establishing food, health and good nutrition as human rights.
A new challenge in the public nutrition community is the linkage between globalization and human development, nutrition and human rights, without going deeper into them. Further studies of such linkages in specific country situations are urgently needed and call for academic and professional openness towards interdisciplinary dialogue, research and implementation. Thus there is indeed progress in nutrition thinking within a global perspective. The potential role and contributions of African nutritionists in accelerating this progress is promising and encouraged.