Global Challenges, Local Occupational Solutions

Crossing borders may not be relevant to the daily practice of many occupational therapists; however, thinking across disciplinary and national borders is more and more a must in a globalising and complex world.

Expanded understandings of health that incorporate the impact of inequality on social determinants of health; societal and cultural changes including demographics and the ageing population; the increasing mobility of populations including that of refugees, are asking for strategies and competences of the occupational therapist that contribute to social transformation and an inclusive society.

This Kelly Bang lecture aims to promote awareness and dialogue regarding the potential for Social Reform through Occupation Based Community Development. Examples of occupation-based community development from different parts of the world, especially Eastern Europe and Africa, will illustrate the changes occupational therapists are sparking toward social inclusion by working together with others on occupational and human rights of vulnerable groups.


Hanneke van Bruggen has been on the frontline of innovative developments of occupational therapy education and practice, both nation-wide and internationally, for more than 40 years. Her accomplishments and experience in education range from social and educational reform in the Eastern and Central European Region, including coordinating and implementing BA degrees in Occupational Therapy (Prague, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania) with a focus on participation of persons with disabilities in society (Georgia, Armenia, Kenya, South Africa) to founding and providing executive direction to ENOTHE (the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education). She also mobilized ENOTHE as a strategic vehicle to obtain funding to develop the internationalization and education alignment of occupational therapy education in Europe (e.g. Socarates/Erasmus Thematic Network Projects). Professor van Bruggen is Director of FAPADAG, NL and an adjunct professor, Dalhousie University. She has be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science, Brighton University, UK and a Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Coruña, Spain.