Teachers face a new challenge with the introduction of the European Higher Education Area. The new system places the student at the center of the teaching process, emphasizing self-directed learning where the student is the protagonist and not merely a passive recipient of knowledge. In this sense, the new teaching methods require active student participation, so that they can as soon as possible become acquainted with problematic situations they could face in their future career.

Within the framework of the Summer School on Public Health, which this year celebrated its twentieth anniversary, the Esteve Foundation launched the fifth edition of this seminar on the 21st and 22nd September for those interested in an introduction to Problem Based Learning (PBL), one of the learning methodologies that best fits the new European directive on higher education.

The starting point of PBL is a problematic situation that permits students to develop explanatory hypotheses, identifying learning needs to better understand the problem and recognising the principles that relate to the acquired knowledge that can be applied to other situations. The use of PBL in small groups has been very effective in developing teamwork skills.

Two professors closely involved with PBL were responsible for directing the two-day course. Luis Alberto Branda is professor and professor emeritus at the Faculty of Medicine at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), the birthplace of Problem Based Learning. For the past 25 years, he has worked almost all of his time on the development of various aspects of professional education and has worked as a consultant for several institutions, including the World Health Organization.

Rosa Maria Torrens is Professor at the Vall d’Hebron University School of Nursing in Barcelona and since 2001 has participated in the implementation of a curriculum integrated with PBL in teaching nursing. She has published several books and articles and in 1998 received the Sant Jordi Award for Health and Catalan Culture.