International Innovation Project (IIP) is an international, multidisciplinary, intensive course. The program was initiated by Metropolitan University College (Denmark), and has been offered from 2011 in collaboration with Seton Hall University (USA), MGH Institute of Health Professions (USA), Metropolia University of Applied Science (Finland) and Metropolitan University College. There are 9 MGH Institute students participating in this year’s 5-week course in Helsinki – 5 Physical Therapy students and 4 Occupational Therapy students. I have the pleasure of attending for the first week and teaching and sharing with the 25 participants and the small army of course instructors and faculty mentors that it takes to run this course. We have been warmly welcomed by the Finnish faculty and students and our group Facebook page is already packed with ideas for things for us to do during our stay in Helsinki.
This week, we are already immersed in getting to know one another, understanding and discussing innovation theory, and the impact of demographic shifts in aging on healthcare and social services in Finland, Denmark, and the US. All of this work is in preparation for our first visit to our “working life partners” – these are community agencies for the elderly, Miina Sillanpaa, and the Jade Project, that are engaging with the students in this course. The assignment is, no less, to generate innovative solutions to problems that these agencies are experiencing. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it! Now you know why the course is 5-weeks long! Students are working in 5 international teams and represent the disciplines of occupational therapy, physical therapy, social services, and nutrition. The course culminates in the presentations to the working life partners of the innovative solutions that the teams have produced. I am already planning how to use innovation theory in my own department . . .