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Study abroad in Africa

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This SIT program investigates prominent issues dominating the international health and development arena. You will learn through onsite briefings and lectures with health and development experts at international and nongovernmental organizations such as the University Hospital of Geneva, the World Health Organization, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The program's eight-day excursion to Morocco provides you with a different vantage point in which to compare and contract public health systems and the impact of development on health.

Major topics of study include:

  • Links between health, the environment, and development
  • Healthcare interventions in complex emergencies
  • Vulnerable groups such as migrants
  • Access to medicines
  • Health security
  • Mental health

You will have outstanding opportunities throughout the semester to learn from and engage with experts from academic and international organizations headquartered in Geneva. The knowledge and field experience of key program contacts will provide you with concrete illustrations of public health, development policy implementation, and best practices in the areas of health and development.

NGOs with which interactions may be possible include The International Centre for Migration Health and Development, Red Cross Geneva, The Global Institute for Water Environment and Health, and Althea. Engagement with a particular NGO may or may not require French language ability.

You will receive an individual pass to the United Nations library, which you can use for the entire semester. Most of the program's lectures and French classes take place on a campus-like environment in Nyon, a charming city located on the shores of Lake Geneva. Nyon is located between Geneva (a 15-minute train ride) and Lausanne (a 25-minute train ride).

As a result of the program's comparative approach, you will be able to consider the complexity of healthcare systems, and health and development policy, from diverse vantage points. You will witness global health systems from a centralized policy and decision-making perspective in Geneva as well as localized applications of health and development programs in a rural setting in Morocco.

The program fully accommodates beginner, intermediate and advanced students of French. French instruction - offered at a variety of language levels - is an important part of the overall curriculum. All French courses emphasize speaking and comprehension skills. The excursion to Morocco will expose you to the subtleties and diversity of the French language in a postcolonial cultural environment.

You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a selected topic of interest. The ISP is conducted in Geneva or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topics include

  • Development and health in complex emergencies
  • The health sector in humanitarian relief
  • International human rights to health
  • Mental health in developing countries
  • Migration and health
  • International, national and regional response to epidemics and pandemics
  • Water and health
  • The paradox of malnutrition
  • Public health and food security in least developed countries

You will work with an ISP advisor, a faculty or professional with expertise in your field of interest. Advisors have included the program's policy experts, program practitioners, medical professionals and other experts. In addition to providing needed expertise, the advisor works with you on the design, implementation and evaluation of your research project.

Learn more about the Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy program and other SIT programs

Credits: 4.5 for the fall or spring semester

Advisor: Professors Andrew Hertel and Judy Thorn

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022