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Northwestern University
IPD's Devora Grynspan (left) and Greg Buchanan discuss the rewards of travel with Stephanie Novak '11.

IPD Urges Students to Hit the Road

IPD's Devora Grynspan (left) and Greg Buchanan discuss the rewards of travel with Stephanie Novak '11.

If Devora Grynspan could wave a magic wand and change anything about Northwestern, she would make sure all students seized the opportunity to explore their interests internationally, just as Stephanie Novak did.

As the director of Weinberg’s International Program Development (IPD), Grynspan says, “Everybody needs an international education now. Everything is global today—the economy, law, medicine, communications, environmental issues. It’s very important.”

Since 2002 IPD has been the go-to resource for myriad international experiences, from specially designed study abroad programs to a global health minor to fellowship opportunities. For instance, its offerings this summer include a six-week green technology and environmental sustainability fellowship in Hangzhou and Beijing, which is a joint program with the Wanxiang Corporation for engineering and environmental studies majors. Last February IPD presented a Global Health Research Symposium featuring panelist Ryan Lange ’11, a Global Health Studies alumnus and Fulbright scholar.

Global Health Studies, the most comprehensive of IPD’s efforts, is an interdisciplinary minor in which students choose courses in a wide range of departments, including anthropology, biology, business, journalism, and political science, among others. The minor requires all students to complete a public health experience abroad, in one of six Northwestern programs: China, Cuba, France, South Africa, Uganda, or Chile. These programs are offered in English, but students must take the appropriate foreign language classes while abroad. Although the minor is housed within Weinberg, it is open to all Northwestern students; about 300 students, roughly half of whom are premed, are currently enrolled.

Grynspan points out that the global health minor was the first Northwestern program to require international travel. “It’s designed to expose students to a series of questions regarding public health policy: What are the health policies of different countries? What kind of access do people have to health resources and medicine? What are the major diseases and health problems in different countries? What cultural factors affect public health? We want students to explore all of these.”

According to Greg Buchanan, IPD’s program coordinator who helped Novak obtain a fellowship, “After students return from their study abroad experience, many are looking for an opportunity to go back. We encourage those students and provide resources for them to conduct research projects overseas. Many of our minors receive research fellowships through IPD, undergraduate research grants through the Provost’s office, or through external funding sources such as Fulbright grants. Our students have been very successful in all three areas.”

One example is Rachel Koh ’11, another Fulbright scholar who majored in cultural anthropology with a minor in global health. She studied in Chile and has since returned there to investigate in depth how Chilean women perceive power relationships with their doctors.

Grynspan adds that Global Health studies alumni go on to earn degrees from the country’s most prestigious graduate programs, including Columbia, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins. “They have done research and they have something to say,” points out Grynspan. “They know the world and that makes them very attractive to graduate schools.”

While Grynspan is pleased with the strides IPD has made in the last decade, she would like to see its numbers grow. “We need more students to learn about the world. It’s such a huge advantage in the marketplace and throughout their careers. It gives them confidence, they can learn a foreign language, they become more sophisticated, they know how to deal with all kinds of people. All students in all disciplines benefit from global studies.”

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