Program in Global Health Studies
2018 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Dévora Grynspan, Vice President for International Relations
Northwestern student researchers studying the effect of community health worker systems to reduce the prevalence of anemia in the Indian village of Charnia, Haryana.
Northwestern’s Program in Global Health Studies is an interdisciplinary program that involves all of the University’s six undergraduate schools and colleges and enrolls approximately 300 students each year. Its extensive curriculum and required international experience provide students across the university with opportunities to explore global health issues in diverse settings and from different perspectives.
Since the creation of the program in 2004, students have been able to fulfill the international requirement with the help of grants and fellowships, as well as through study abroad programs at partner institutions in Chile, China, Cuba, Mexico, Israel, France, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Programs focus on health issues and practices of the respective country, such as traditional medicine in China, post-conflict mental health in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and community health in Mexico or South Africa. The study abroad programs also include courses on language, politics and policy, and culture and history, alongside many site visits and excursions.
Global Health Studies faculty vary widely in academic backgrounds—from anthropologists and biomedical engineers to rehabilitation specialists and health officials. They teach a variety of topics including global bioethics, social determinants of health and Native American health, and serve as supervisors for student research. Many faculty members take student cohorts abroad for hands-on public health field research studies, sometimes in collaboration with students or faculty from Northwestern’s international partners, allowing for the expansion and deepening of those institutional relationships.
“Our program has an extraordinary group of faculty who challenge students with thoughtful and critical perspectives on a diverse range of topics,” says Global Health Studies program director William Leonard.
Fellowships and donor funding is available for all of these opportunities, minimizing the financial barriers for many Northwestern students and giving traditionally underrepresented students the option for academic study and research abroad.
Global Health Studies has recently created a new adjunct major and an Accelerated Public Health Program (APHP) in collaboration with Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Students enrolled in the APHP, a 5-year combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program, come to Feinberg having already completed a significant public health experience abroad, helping to further internationalize the medical school.
Citing the students’ “infectious enthusiasm and desire to improve lives worldwide,” Northwestern president Morton Schapiro says that the global health students “have unquestionably helped to internationalize our university—and 59 others nationwide—with the founding at Northwestern of GlobeMed, a nonprofit organization that empowers students to work with communities abroad to advance health equity.”
Through the combination of a vibrant global health curriculum on campus, unique experiential learning opportunities abroad, and an abundance of extracurricular offerings, such as alumni mentor programs, global health student groups, numerous campus events, and travel funding to attend global health conferences, Northwestern’s Program in Global Health Studies provides students with the skills they need to engage critically with the world’s current global health challenges.