Today, university students have an unprecedented awareness of growing health disparities throughout the world. Not only are students aware, but they are eager take action to address these observed disparities. Along with taking advantage of academic programs on university campuses, students more than ever are traveling to underserved communities and taking part in medical service delivery. While global health volunteerism can be accomplished in ways that are sustainable, culturally sensitive, and positive for the recipient communities, we worry that too often students are thrust into situations where they are ill-prepared to make actual positive impact. Worse still, without proper training and preparation, volunteer efforts could unintentionally result in significant harm to vulnerable populations or health hazards for the volunteers themselves.
We believe that students can create positive change in global health by being culturally competent, striving for sustainability, and understanding the ethical implications of our actions. Therefore, we seek to develop a student-led seminar that will engage students in critical thought about effective student involvement in global health. By addressing the root causes that drive global health inequity we hope to frame a discussion which creates discernment amongst participants about their own motivations to be involved in this movement. Using models of existing, student-led organizations, the course will explore issues of global health service, such as cultural competency, asset-based community development, medical ethics, and extending one's impact beyond their stay. Upon completion of the course, students will be better able to maximize the impact of their global health volunteerism and be equipped with the skills and judgment to be tomorrow's global health leaders.
Here is a brief outline of the topics we hope to cover in the seminar:
1.Global Burden of Disease
- An introduction to major trends of the distribution
- Structural violence, neoliberal economic policies, etc.
- Asking the question: Why do we really want to be a part of this movement?
- Reading such things as Duffel Bag Medicine, by Maya Roberts and To Hell with Good Intentions, by Ivan Illych
- Based on a discussion by PIH Director of Development, Ed Cardoza
7.Long term vs. short term engagement
- Developing tools to measure impact
- Case studies of effective/ not effective student-led organizations
I'd love for an comments/ideas for resources/criticism of what we've got so far. I'll keep you posted about our progress!