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Table 1 Key questions to address in supporting the development of post-graduate HPSR+A teaching

From: Strengthening post-graduate educational capacity for health policy and systems research and analysis: the strategy of the Consortium for Health Policy and Systems Analysis in Africa

Question 1:
How can HPSR+A curriculum development address key aspects of current educational practice?
This question is central to consideration of what is currently being taught under the label of HPSR+A , how this teaching is done and how it might look in future. CHEPSAA’s analysis suggests that such curriculum development needs to address issues such as the diverse student groups of HPSR+A courses, the variation in credit hours for HPSR+A subject matter, limited student-educator contact time and the large portions of time allocated to other tasks, and forms of teaching and assessment. The question encourages consideration of how these issues should be dealt with, what current practices should be carried over to the future, and how current approaches can be optimised and new ones encouraged.
Question 2:
Is it better to teach HPSR+A as a cross-cutting theme within a master’s programme, through focused courses or a combination of both?
CHEPSAA’s analysis shows that much HPSR+A teaching takes the form of courses that are situated in larger programmes such as MPH degrees, that they address diverse student audiences and that there is a large variety of courses with various degrees of HPSR+A focus. It is important, therefore, to think about the structures within which those courses fit. A key question in this regard is whether the field and its target audiences are best served through cross-cutting or more specialist courses. Teaching in a cross-cutting way will, for example, expose a wider range of students to the subject, while focused courses offer greater depth.
Question 3:
Do schools of public health and similar organisations have enough staff from different disciplines to offer the best possible teaching on health systems, and what challenges are faced in trying to work across disciplines and departments?
As is clear from the definition used in this work, HPSR+A defines itself as a multi-disciplinary field. It has also been shown that researchers and educators in the field often want to increase multi-disciplinary work, but face challenges in seeking to do this, including having too little time for the course materials they aim to cover without even bringing in materials and perspectives from different disciplines and limited cross-disciplinary connections within their institutions or links with potential collaborators from other disciplines [11]. Given HPSR+A’s commitment to multi-disciplinarity, it is important to consider how this principle is addressed and brought to life in current and future teaching.