Okanagan Charter: The Okanagan Charter is a guiding and aspirational document that was developed as an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. Health promotion scholars and professionals from around the world gathered to create this document. Its purpose is to guide colleges and universities, using their unique positions and roles in research, teaching and service to their communities, to be leaders for the world in developing and modeling health-promoting strategies in their campus settings. Local communities could then learn from their example and modeling, thus influencing global health and wellbeing strategy. The key is moving beyond traditional approaches of influencing individual behavior, and moving upstream to systems level and environmental strategies that influence the health and wellbeing of person, place and planet.
National Networks: After the development and release of the Okanagan Charter in 2015, several countries used the document as a foundational tool to create national networks of campuses that would use the Charter to guide their wellbeing initiatives and work. Today strong national networks exist in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and IberoAmerica, among others. The United Kingdom, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Dooris, and Canada, led by the work of Dr. Matt Dolf, are recognized global leaders in this work.
United States Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN): Talk of the Okanagan Charter in the United States began to take off in early 2018, at the NASPA Strategies Conference in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Mark Dooris (U.K.) and Dr. Matt Dolf (Canada) were keynote and session presenters, respectively, sharing the work they were doing to advance systems level work in health promotion on campuses across their countries. Talk began of starting a network in the U.S. In January of 2020, as a NASPA Strategies Pre-Conference session, representatives from 30-40 campuses gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana to discuss the Okanagan Charter and the movement to create a national network. Out of that meeting, several campus representatives met again in April (on Zoom, due to the pandemic) to discuss building a national network, and an Executive Committee was formed to lead the process. Interested campuses began monthly meetings in November, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham became the first U.S. institution to formally adopt the Charter in December. The first USHPCN Summit was held in February (2021), featuring Dr. Mark Dooris and Dr. Matt Dolf as speakers. By March, more than 40 campuses were actively involved in the network. The ultimate goal of the network is to guide and support campuses, as they navigate the process to adopt the Okanagan Charter as an aspirational document to guide their campus wellbeing efforts from a comprehensive and systems level approach. Once a campus adopts the Charter, the USHPCN becomes a support network that helps campuses define, develop strategies, and create metrics for what it means to be a health promoting campus, as it will be different for each campus, based on their unique circumstances, resources, and needs. The network is also adding new campuses along the way.
Cohorts: At the USHPCN Summit, the campuses self-selected an adoption cohort that made sense for them. There was the first cohort, which included campuses with intention to adopt within the 2021 calendar year. The signing date for the 2021 cohort is September 1, 2021. Campuses can sign on or before that date, but there will be a national effort to recognize the campuses who have signed on or before the signing date. The rest of the campuses were at least a year out from adopting. Each year, a new cohort of campuses will self-select into the next calendar year’s cohort, with two signing dates (one in the spring and one in the fall).
For more information on the USHPCN please see our Terms of Reference.
Rebecca Kennedy (Chair) – University of Alabama at Birmingham
Paula Swinford – University of Southern California
Suzy Harrington – University of Houston
Chris Dawe – Northwest Missouri State University
Doug Everhart – University of California, Irvine
Sislena Ledbetter – Western Washington University
If your campus is interested in joining the USHPCN, or if you have questions or want more information about the network, please contact us.