Physiopunk Vol 1: A new education program for the future


Camilla Kristiansen, Bachelor program in physiotherapy, Institute for Health and Care Sciences,
UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

A new education program for the future´ is set in a time when, even though the SDGs have not been achieved in the time allocated for them, working towards the goals and aspirations expressed in them remains as important as ever. Insight into the interconnected nature of society, health and environment and the need for long-term, transdisciplinary thinking and action has led to the creation of a new health and sustainability Bachelor program. Transdisciplinary education and communication have become the new normal and one can feel an excitement growing from the exchange. The expanded understanding of healthcare that underpins this kind of education and practice amplifies critical question to physiotherapy as we move towards new healthcare futures: Will we hold on to physiotherapy as it always has been, or will we change it? Will we oppose or contribute to the creation of new approaches to healthcare practice and education? What will be our contributions to the complex social and environmental challenges of healthcare today and in the future? What futures are we willing to imagine, and which ones are we willing to help come to life? 


Elida is 22 years old from Stavanger. She is a member of A Bright Future, an organization that works against climate change and social inequality. Since the UN Sustainable Development Goal of stopping climate change by 2030 was not met, the Green Party established A Bright Future in 2035. The organization works to inform and engage Norway’s population to want to choose a greener everyday life and take greater part in combating climate change globally.

Through the organization, the Green Party successfully introduced a new Bachelor called Health and Sustainability in 2045 – an education program that would help combat climate change locally and globally. The new Bachelor program was a great success and already in 2055, almost all EU countries had added the program to their educational institutions. Elida knows several who have taken this degree and have had a great interest in the program for a long time. Already in middle school, when she became a member of A Bright Future, she decided that this Bachelor was what she wanted to do. Today it is 30 years since the Bachelor was first introduced, and the changes have been great. Among other things, the sea ice has stopped melting, the use of fossil energy sources and deforestation has slowed down drastically, and population growth has stopped.

That is why she chose to move to Oslo in 2074 and start on the ‘Bachelor in Health and Sustainability’. The first year consisted of theory, where she learned about climate change, sustainability and the health effects of this.

Elida has closely followed the results presented by the organization and saw that, even though the changes are significant, much remains to be done. There has been no major climate change since the period between 2060-2075. But even though the climate seems stable, we are still not living in a sustainable way, as there are still people who are starving, animals that are endangered and nature is still suffering. That is why she chose to move to Oslo in 2074 and start on the bachelor’s in Health and Sustainability. The first year consisted of theory, where she learned about climate change, sustainability and the health effects of this.

Now she is in her second year of study and will start her 2-year practical period. During these years, students are sent around the world to work against climate change in different ways. There are 3 pathways to choose from: The Arctic, Africa and Technology. The first pathway called the Arctic works to restore and preserve nature in the Arctic. The Africa pathway goes to Senegal and other areas in Africa to work against desertification there. And the last pathway of technology goes to the headquarters for research on sustainable development, where they research new technologies that will completely replace fossil fuels.

The program places great emphasis on collaboration and the students are therefore set up in teams across the three pathways. Elida, who chose the pathway Africa, is on a team with Aurora from the Arctic and Colin from technology pathway. Each month, they update each other on what they are doing, what challenges they have, and what plans there are for going forward. It is now the end of February, and Elida and the rest of the team have uploaded their messages to each other.

Messages – Elida in Afrika

Hi Aurora and Colin!

This month has been really exciting. Together with the locals here in Senegal, we have collaborated with other students from Australia, Denmark, England and Brazil. We have helped to collect cattle and goats into larger herds and helped with the crops. You may remember from the first year of study that desertification has been a major problem, and the only way to combat this is with grazing animals. Well, I have positive news: 50 years ago, 65% of the earth’s land was exposed to desertification, but new figures now show that the exposed areas have been reduced to only 10%! Here is a picture from one of the locals here with the grazing animals.

It also seems that the local economy has started to flourish because of this. This has led to a huge improvement in the quality of life here. It is really clear that the supply of water and raw materials has reduced the risk of disease, injury and mortality. Next month we are going to the other side of Africa, to Ethiopia, where we will be involved in reforestation. It’s going to be a lot of fun, at least now that major changes have already taken place there. Mom showed me a picture from when she was in Ethiopia in 2010 and it will be exciting to see the difference! Can’t wait to show you the picture. Hope you are well too and that the progress is great!

Hug, Elida.

Aurora in the arctic

Hi Elida and Collin. Hope all is well with you!

In the Arctic, it is cold as always, thankfully. This month we have studied the wildlife here in the Arctic. While some animal species have increased in number and distribution, other species that need snow and cold changed their behavior, and there are fewer of them as well. Our studies focus on the new behavior of these animals, and the new combinations of wildlife in the Arctic.

In particular, we have looked at the previously endangered mountain fox, which has now gained a slight resurgence due to the breeding station here. Farmed mountain foxes are not comparable to wild mountain foxes in size, as they are much larger and almost twice as heavy. In addition, there has been a major change in the color of their coat. The mountain fox is known for its fine white color. But since the winter has become shorter, the fox retains its brown summer color longer. Breeding has also led to a mutation where the fine white color that the coat takes on in winter, now has a grayer shade. See how active and nice the mountain foxes at the breeding station are here. It’s February and the summer coat is already on.

Flooding after the big ice melt is still a big problem here. Now it seems that the melting of the ice has stopped for a while and that there will be no major changes anymore. But it is clear that the plant and wildlife have been affected.

Next month we will look at the new plant life here! Due to the floods, several plants have disappeared, but new species have also emerged. Really exciting to see how the plant and wildlife here are so deeply connected. New food chains are taking shape, and the animals are able to adapt to the new food sources.

Hug, Aurora

Colin – Technology 

Hi, Elida and Aurora. 

Hyperloop development continues. As I wrote to you last time, hyperloop technology has become very popular in several countries. This means of transport has now been in use for 30 years and we still see great potential for development, and clearly a greater prevalence in eastern countries. Earlier, as you have come to know the hyperloop, it was able to travel at 900km/h, which is extremely fast, but with new technology it seems that we can get it up to 1200km/h! Since the tracks are built underground, they will not destroy plant and animal life and we have almost no limits to how much we can expand! In several of the western countries, Hyperloop has already become one of the leading means of transport, and now the development in the eastern countries continues. I don’t know if the Hyperloop is on its way to you in Africa also Elida? You shouldn’t ignore that, in a short amount of time, you could travel across Africa in just 8 hours!

Even though the Hyperloop will perhaps be the most important means of transport today, we will also see more people continuing to use cars for some time to come. In fact, Cesla is now developing a new electric car called the Cleaner, which will clean the air. Cesla’s new technology is still quite new, but we may be allowed to go to their production site as early as next year, and perhaps take part in developing the technology even further.

In any case, we see challenges in the development of the hyperloop in the eastern countries due to ongoing wars. Hopefully, the new technology, together with the advances in Africa and the Arctic, will help to combat hunger and social inequalities in these countries as well, so that there can finally be peace. How amazing that would be!

Next month we will actually go to Sweden where they are researching new technology in hand prostheses. We will look at how prostheses can make complex finger movements through programming. In addition, they are researching how to make the prosthesis respond to nerve impulses from the brain, so that it can perform movements desired by their user. So cool!

Hug, Colin

PDF download: Kristiansen 2021 A new education program for the future