Co-design and social innovation for health promoting local communities 

Co-design and social innovation for health promoting local communities 

The health and welfare sector faces major challenges such as aging, an increase in chronic diseases and limited resources. In Norway, the Public Health Act, and the report to the Storting, i.e., "Samhandlingsreformen” stipulate that the health-promoting work will largely take place at the municipal level. In other words, it is the local community that will be the most important arena for health promotion work in the future. In the village, we will dive deep into co-creation and social innovation as perspectives and strategies for service development, health promotion and favourable living environments.

Relevant competency

The village is planning for an interdisciplinary effort where basically all professional competence is relevant. Personal interest and commitment to the village's theme is also important.

About the village  

Health promotion work is about strengthening the factors that enable people to improve and maintain their health. This work takes place in all phases of the life course and is often discussed based on three different phases of life: childhood and adolescence, the adult population, and the elderly. The health-promoting factors will have different expressions and can be realized in varying ways depending on which phase of life one is targeting. Home environment, kindergarten and school are particularly important among children and young people, work attachment is particularly important in the adult population, while maintaining social contact and networks is central among the elderly population (Kaasbøll & Lassemo, 2018).

Co-creation is a key component of the WHO's vision for health-promoting cities and communities. Co-design of health-promoting local communities involves a process in which different actors develop welfare and societal value together (Pedersen-Ulrich, 2016), and where different experience, resources, competence, and ideas are constructively exchanged and used (Torfing, Sørensen and Røiseland 2016). Social innovation is created by new ideas that solve urgent unmet social needs (Krobo, 2018). Unlike other types of innovation, social innovation solves problems that have not been fully defined or defined in advance by individual actors or the initiating organization – but are created together by several stakeholders jointly.

Co-design and social innovation can help solve complex problems in a time of changing demographics, legitimacy problems and increased spending, combined with increased expectations of social welfare benefits and emphasis on citizens' rights (Kobro, 2018). This cannot be solved through standard solutions or increased budgets alone but needs more innovative involvement of stakeholders from both public and private activities together with civil society. In this village, we want to explore how co-creation and social innovation in health-promoting work can contribute to creating sustainable local communities.

The student groups in the village will formulate their own tasks, but we have an active collaboration with Gjøvik municipality, HelseINN and the Cluster for co-creative service design and innovation (CCSDI). In their work, students should apply knowledge and methods from their own fields. In addition, we will introduce human-centered design and design thinking – and emphasize the participation of relevant user groups along the way.

Example of current topics for projects

  • Expectations and prerequisites for development and co-design among citizens, municipalities, public and private sector organizations, businesses, and volunteers
  • Tools to facilitate co-design between different stakeholders
  • Evaluation of working methods and processes that will contribute to greater involvement
  • Effects of digital forms of communication, digital platforms and new technology on the way we live and interact
  • Evaluation of solutions that will contribute to more involvement of local communities in health-promoting social measures
  • Enabling technologies for health promotion
  • Security management in co-designed health technologies
  • Inclusive processes in co-design work

Alternative assessment  

In this village, the project report has been replaced by a project poster and an oral exam that counts for 50% of the grade. The poster and the oral exam are assessed according to the same criteria as the project report.



  • Course code: IMT4000
  • Title: Co-design and social innovation for health promoting local communities 
  • Type: Semester
    Teaching method: Virtual classroom*
  • Language: English
  • Village manager: Anne Britt Torkildsby
  • Contact information:
  • Semester: Spring 2024
  • Location: Gjøvik
  • Host faculty: AD

* Please note that the village is virtual. All teaching and group work takes place using online collaboration tools. Students must have a computer with camera and microphone.

The village meetings will take place every Wednesday from 12.00-15.00. In addition, each group has a 2–4-hour meeting during the week. Each group, after consultation with the teaching staff, makes up their own decision when and where to meet and work (could be other days than Wednesday, and evenings as well). Individual work is also expected.

How do I register for EiT?

Important information about EiT

Important information about EiT:

  • The focus on teamwork skills and group processes is the unique feature of Experts in Teamwork (EiT)
  • EiTs teaching methods depend on the contribution and presence of every participant throughout the semester. For this reason, attendance is compulsory on every village day.
  • In contrast to many courses, the first few days are especially important in EiT. During this period, get to know each other and discuss what each individual can contribute. You will also draw up the compulsory cooperation agreement and start preparing a shared research question.
  • For additional information about Experts in Teamwork, see page for students