The University of Thessaly was founded in 1984 and welcomed its first students in the academic year 1988-1989. Administratively based in Volos, it has developed in the whole region of Thessaly and Central Greece in Volos, Larissa, Lamia, Karditsa and Trikala. The UTH is organized in 8 Schools, 37 Departments and 71 Post-graduate Study Programs. Currently, 36,622 undergraduate and approximately 4,500 post-graduate students and doctoral candidates are studying at the University of Thessaly. It is staffed by 844 faculty members and 427 members of administrative personnel. Teaching is also supported by a large number of contractual instructors. The University of Thessaly is a dynamically developing higher education institute which ranks in the top 1000 universities worldwide according to data from the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities, 2019 (http://www.shanghairanking.com/). Our mission is to promote knowledge through instruction and research and to contribute to the cultural and economic development on a regional, national and international level. To achieve its goals, the University seeks to create a learning environment promoting critical thought, innovation, freedom of expression and cultivation of loyalty to democratic ideals. The University is deeply invested in high-quality scientific research, considering it a necessary presupposition for the production and transmission of new knowledge: it encourages scientific distinction of its research potential in all fields, it rewards high individual and collective achievement, and it creates a conducive climate for research and teaching innovation. The Action Plan captures and attempts to positively influence our progress towards the future, understanding the Institute’s journey in the academic presence and the terms by which its identity is forged and evaluating the outcome of this journey. The University of Thessaly Action Plan constitutes the guide of operation, the point where separate academic functions meet, the means for pursuing individual and central strategic aims and choices and the measure by which the effectiveness of administrative organs in its implementation is evaluated. At the same time, it is the drive behind the academic community and its active participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of individual policies. The University is in itself a complex and intensely diverse human ecosystem with sensitive balance both in its internal and its external environment, a great variety of academic origins and orientations, but also an inexhaustible creativity seeking an outlet and a role in shaping the academic reality. The Action Plan aims to become the meeting and collaboration point of all components of the academic community which trust in the role of the university and wish to work in an organized and creative way to implement a plan which they will have co-authored. The Action Plan defines priorities, processes, lines of action and timelines in all fields that concern the production, utilization and dissemination of knowledge, the reinforcement of our relations with the most developed segment of the international scientific community and the reinforcement of our bonds with society and economy on a regional and national level. In order to implement this Plan, we are looking for strategic alliances and the maximum possible support from the society and the State. The development of the University is in the long run the most profitable investment that can be made at a decentralized level, as it is characterized by significant multiplier effects and as it permeates the social and productive fabric with the most valuable productive factor: knowledge.
The implementation model of physical activity in the undergraduate curriculum of the Department of Medicine is illustrated in the following Figure and included three successive and distinct steps. In Step 1, we explored all the factors that could affect implementation, using data obtained from focus groups (conducted with all relevant stakeholders, i.e. the university higher management, academics, students) that could influence the upcoming implementation process. In Step 2, we addressed the identified barriers through capacity building actions and interventions and we co-developed a final implementation map. In Step 3, we actually implemented the physical activity course in the undergraduate curriculum of the Department of Medicine and we monitored and evaluated the outcomes of this implementation process.
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