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Northwestern University
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Learning on the Ground Through Global Health Studies

When it comes to addressing world health issues, Angela Dao ’12 has learned that nothing compares to experience on the ground.

Wanting to learn more outside the classroom, Dao jumped at the chance to study public health in Uganda to fulfill the study-abroad requirement for her minor in Global Health Studies. In addition to learning about Uganda’s public health system and issues such as addiction and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, Dao found that being in-country taught her lessons no lecture could.

Dao now serves as project coordinator with RADAR’s Care in the Home Study in South Africa. It’s an opportunity she owes to her minor in Global Health Studies, an inter­disciplinary program that explores issues such as infectious disease, refugee and immigrant health, and bioethics.

The program’s efforts to engage students to think critically about world health issues were recognized this year with the 2013 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization. The prestigious award recognizes outstanding, innovative work in international education.

Launched in 2004, Global Health Studies offers an undergraduate minor to students of any major, explains Dévora Grynspan, director of International Program Development. It is the only academic program on campus that requires an international experience, with programs offered in China, Cuba, France, Israel, Chile and South Africa. About 270 students were enrolled in the program last year.

“We want students to have a comprehensive and coherent understanding of global health,” she says. “That encompasses not only the clinical part, but the cultural, political and economic issues that impact the spread of ­disease and the ways in which different ­countries deal with those issues.”

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