Jordan | Semester Abroad | Health | Community Development | Arabic

Jordan: Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action

Examine firsthand the ongoing humanitarian relief response to the regional Syrian refugee crisis, focusing on refugee health, in Jordan and explore the social and political effects of the influx of Syrian refugees to Europe during an excursion to Switzerland. Choose to take three or six credits of Modern Standard Arabic.

This program addresses the political, social, cultural, and economic factors behind the influx of refugees to Jordan, as well as the effects of this influx on host communities. Through field visits and on-site lectures, you will learn firsthand the priorities, principles, rights, and duties governing humanitarian action, in addition to the challenges UN agencies, international relief organizations, and Jordan’s government face in both emergency and post-emergency phases. The program's excursion to Switzerland will allow you to compare and contrast the humanitarian response to Syrian refugees and the challenges refugees and host communities face in the contexts of two countries.

Major topics of study include:

  • The role of UN and international relief agencies in refugee assistance and humanitarian action
  • The impact of refugees on the economy and various social sectors of the host community
  • Health status, risk factors, and health services available to refugees
  • Mental health and psychosocial challenges in refugee populations
  • Gender-specific vulnerabilities within refugee populations

The program is based in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a country that continues to receive waves of refugees displaced by regional conflicts.

Experiential Learning Approach

The program uses an experiential learning model that integrates theory and field-based learning during visits to Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps, refugee host communities, healthcare facilities, United Nations agencies, international relief organizations, public institutions, and local NGOs. The program also visits UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Save the Children, and Jordan’s Ministry of Health, among others. These field visits give you the opportunity to observe and experience program themes firsthand.

You will also have ample opportunities to connect and engage with local experts, professionals, aid workers, and students from Jordanian universities, most notably the Jordan University of Science and Technologies.

Major topics of study include:

  • Production, protection, and status of refugees and displaced populations in the Middle East and North Africa region
  • Socio-cultural, economic, mental health, and psychosocial challenges, such as identity crises and social inclusion, faced by refugees and displaced populations in Jordan
  • Gender-specific vulnerabilities within refugee populations, with particular attention to issues of safety, discrimination, exploitation, and gender-based violence
  • The impact of refugees on Jordan's economy and various social sectors
  • The impact of Syrian refugees on socio-political stability in Jordan and Turkey
  • Common principles and legal frameworks governing humanitarian action
  • Minimum standards in humanitarian response
  • Emergency and post-emergency health services for refugees and displaced populations
  • Healthcare for refugees and other vulnerable groups
  • The role of UN and international relief agencies in refugee assistance and humanitarian action
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency healthcare system

Gain New Competencies in Arabic and Local Culture

You will receive language instruction in Modern Standard Arabic, offered at a variety of levels. You can choose to take either six credits in Arabic and one thematic seminar (Refugees and Displaced Populations in the Context of Jordan) OR three credits in Arabic and two thematic seminars. A component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is part of the course.

Complete an Independent Study Project

You will spend the last month of the program working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which you will conduct primary research on a selected topic of interest. The ISP is conducted in Amman or in another approved location in Jordan appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas include:

  • Refugee women’s empowerment and protection
  • Risk factors and prevalence of mental illness in refugees
  • Consequences of displacement on increased risks of domestic violence and gender-based violence
  • Malnutrition in refugee children
  • The effect of refugees on the health system in Jordan
  • Refugees and water security
  • Refugees’ resilience and integration
  • Refugees’ health and human rights
I am now working full time at the University of Utah Hospital as a heart failure and transplant study coordinator. I know I wouldn’t have been able to get this job without the independent research experience the SIT program provided me.

Maegan Joy Johnson, University of Utah, SIT alumna, fall 2013

Access virtual library guide.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Choose to take either the two thematic seminars and 3-credit Arabic language course OR the first thematic seminar and 6-credit Arabic language course.

Refugees and Displaced Populations in the Context of Jordan – syllabus
(MDES3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This seminar introduces students to the principles, guidelines, and laws related to refugee status and treatment as well as the legal responsibility of states to guarantee refugees’ right to assistance and protection. The seminar also explores the major challenges refugees face, such as identity crises, social integration, and cultural-contextual change, as well as the social, economic, and political impact of the successive waves of refugees on Jordan.

Refugee Health and Humanitarian Action – syllabus
(MDES3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This seminar examines firsthand the humanitarian relief action taking place in Jordan to provide assistance to Syrian refugees, with special emphasis on the health sector. The seminar addresses the principles, rights, and duties governing humanitarian action and looks into the challenges of providing assistance to refugees. The health status and risk factors of refugees and the health services available to them will be addressed, with special emphasis on vulnerable groups including women, children, and people with disabilities.

Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)


Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
The language course is offered at different levels, and students have the option to take either three credits or six credits. The language course emphasizes speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha) through classroom and field instruction. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. A component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is also part of the course.

All students take the following two courses:

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This seminar provides students with the necessary conceptual and methodological tools to undertake field study in Jordan. Students also learn the ethical and cultural considerations and procedures for conducting research with vulnerable populations such as refugees and displaced populations.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
The Independent Study Project is conducted in Amman or another approved location in Jordan appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: mental healthcare provision available to various populations, including refugees; the effect of daily stressors on Syrian refugee women; consequences of displacement on increased risks of domestic violence and gender-based violence; malnutrition in refugee children; refugee women’s empowerment and protection.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Carefully designed educational excursions provide you with the opportunity to learn, analyze, and assess the humanitarian response to Syrian refugees and the socioeconomic impact of Syrian refugees on local host communities while also granting you the possibility to continue improving your research skills outside Amman. Excursions outside Jordan’s bustling capital also allow you to experience the sharp contrasts between urban and rural lifestyles.

Southern Excursion

PetraThis excursion takes you to southern Jordan. You will visit local health centers and associations that provide health services to local communities and urban refugees living in host communities. You will also have the opportunity to experience everyday life in this part of Jordan and study some alternative medical treatments available to local communities. Highlights of this excursion include:

  • Dana Nature Reserve. The dynamic topography of the Dana Nature Reserve extends from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. You will experience the reserve’s impressive mountains, the ancient ruins of Feinan, the cliffs of Wadi Dana, and the village Dana.
  • Petra. You will spend a day visiting Petra, a treasure of the ancient world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is among the most stunning desert landscapes in the world. In Wadi Rum, you will experience the exceptional hospitality of desert people and Bedouin tribes and discuss health issues and healthcare systems available to local populations.

Northern Heights Excursion

JerashThis excursion takes you to visit the ruins of two Greek Decapolis cities: Jerash (Jerasa) and Um Qais (Jadara) as well as Ajloun's Nature Reserve and the area's historical and natural attractions. The Northern part of Jordan is hosting more than 80% of Syrian refugees; this excursion will enable you to assess the impact of refugees on local host communities here.

  • Um Qais. You will experience the Greek and Ottoman remains of Jadara and enjoy sweeping views over the Golan Height and the Sea of Galilee.
  • Jerash. You will experience the extraordinary remains of the ancient city of Jerash, one of the most impressive and best preserved Roman cities outside of Italy, located a little less than 50 kilometers north of Amman. Read more about Jerash.
  • Ajloun. Just northwest of Jerash is located the town of Ajloun, home to the Castle of Ajloun or Qalaat Errabadh (Arabic for "hilltop castle"). The fortress was built by Muslims from 1184–85 as a military fort and buffer to protect the region from invading Crusader forces. You will spend a night at the Ajloun Forest Lodge, which occupies a large grassy clearing, enclosed by oak, pistachio, and strawberry trees. The lodge offers beautiful views of the reserve; occasionally one can see as far away as Jebel Sheikh in Lebanon.

Madaba and Mount Nebo Excursion

  • Madaba. Madaba is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of Palestine and the Nile delta located in the nineteenth-century St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. You will visit the site and enjoy a smaller but still populous Jordanian city. Then, you will travel to Mount Nebo, which, according to ancient tradition, is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land.
  • The Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the most spectacular natural landscape in Jordan. It is also one of the world's richest sources of natural salts and an important site for skin care with therapeutic minerals.

Switzerland Excursion

International Red CrossThe program includes an excursion to Switzerland, spending most of the stay in Geneva, a major international capital. This excursion will provide you with an opportunity to learn from experts about the international refugee system, the global refugee status, and the challenges health and relief agencies face in providing refugee protection and assistance. The excursion includes visits to UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross, WHO, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

You will also get the chance to explore old Geneva, visit chateaus and arts and culture museums, enjoy a cruise along the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva, and experience Geneva’s rich history, architecture, and cuisine. An excursion to Lausanne, one of Switzerland’s prettiest cities on Lake Geneva, provides the opportunity to explore the city’s markets and medieval Old Town.

Bayan Abdulhaq, PhD, Academic Director

Bayan AbdulhaqDr. Abdulhaq holds a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from King’s College London. Additionally, she has an MSc in pharmaceutical analysis and quality control from the same university and a BSc in pharmacy from the University of Jordan.

She has worked as a faculty member at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Jordan, where she taught drug delivery systems, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and analysis. Dr. Abdulhaq has extensive experience in educational quality assurance; she acted as the quality assurance director at TAG Graduate School of Business, part of the German Jordanian University in Amman, which was accredited later by FIBAA, a Swiss accreditation agency.

In more recent years, she has served as a board member and the executive director of the Arab Organization for Quality Assurance in Education (AROQA) and has worked as a consultant for higher education institutions in Bahrain. She is a certified manager for organizational excellence by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Dr. Abdulhaq has more than eight years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry; she has worked as a production manager and as a medical affairs manager. She also works as a consultant in the field of Good Clinical Practice (GCP). Dr. Abdulhaq is a licensed pharmacist and a full member of the Pharmaceutical Union of Jordan. She has also served as a member of the Bioequivalence Committee at the Jordanian Food and Drug Administration (JFDA).

Professor Ayman M. Hamdan-Mansour, RN, MSN, PhD, Lecturer

Currently a professor of psychiatric mental health nursing and head of the community health nursing department at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Jordan, Professor Hamdan-Mansour obtained his undergraduate (1993) and master’s (1999) degrees at the University of Jordan and his PhD in nursing at the University of Pittsburgh (USA, 2004).  

Professor Hamdan-Mansour has more than 50 publications in the field of community and mental health prevention and promotion. He has been active in establishing collaboration with well-known international agencies including WHO, JICA, UNESCO, and USAID. He is also a consultant for different national organizations, including the National Council for Family Affairs, the Jordanian Council, the Higher Population Council, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education.

Professor Hamdan-Mansour is interested in investigating issues related to mental and community health. His areas of research are youth mental health, community mental health, and women and child abuse. This includes depression, stress, coping, social support, life satisfaction, anger, and substance abuse. He also focuses on topics related to the abuse of women, patients’ human rights, and primary mental healthcare for war survivors.

He has several national research awards and recognition letters, and served as reviewer for a number of peer-reviewed national and international journals. He has also supervised a number of master’s theses and PhD dissertations.   

Professor Hamdan-Mansour teaches psychiatric mental health nursing, stress and stress responses, psychosocial health of patients with chronic illness, research methods, and statistics.

Dr. Akihiro Seita, Lecturer

Dr. Akihiro Seita has been the director of health programs at UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and the WHO special representative at UNRWA since November 2010. In his four-year tenure, he has started and expanded health reform projects with the Family Health Team and eHealth; by the end of 2014, 99 out of 138 health centers of UNRWA had already adopted the Family Health Team. He initiated an innovative monitoring system for diabetes and hypertension with eHealth, which was commended by The Lancet, a UK medical journal. Prior to working at UNRWA, Dr. Seita worked in the Middle East for over 15 years at the World Health Organization Regional Office in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (WHO/EMRO), Egypt. He was in charge of tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria at WHO/EMRO, which covers 22 countries in North Africa and the Middle East. He managed to work effectively with national governments and global partners, in particular the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria by effectively expanding the global tuberculosis control strategy widely known as DOTS. Dr. Seita has a medical degree from Kochi medical school in Japan and worked as a research fellow at the Takemi Program in International Health at Harvard School of Public Health.

Leena Jumah, Program Assistant

Leena Jumah obtained her BA in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) from Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) in 2007 and her MA in translation from the University of Jordan (JU) in 2011. She has worked as a private tutor for English conversation, in addition to working as an academic counselor at Global Vision for Academic Services. She also has experience in organizing office operations and procedures through her work at the Presidency Unit at JUST in 2007 and more recently in the private sector. Leena has attended a communication skills workshop and completed a course in customer care and work ethics.

Rawan Al Samaan, Homestay Coordinator

Rawan Al Samaan has been working as a homestay coordinator with SIT Study Abroad since 2014. In this capacity, Rawan assists with a wide range of homestay arrangements in Amman and the rural areas and works with both students and host families on cross-cultural communication skills. Rawan started with SIT as a custom program assistant in 2013, and has experience in financial management, analysis, marketing, and strategic planning. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from Amman Al-Ahliyeh University in Salt, Jordan, in 2008.

Riham Al-Naimat, Language Instructor

Riham Al-Naimat obtained a master’s degree in Arabic language and literature from Al-Albayt University in 2007. In 2009, Riham began volunteering as an SIT Jordan language instructor for intermediate high and advanced levels. In the summer of 2010, she joined SIT full time and has been teaching Modern Standard Arabic ever since. She previously worked as an Arabic instructor at the Jordanian Ministry of Education and as an Arabic instructor and language coordinator at international schools in Saudi Arabia.

Rima Al-Akramawi, Language Coordinator

Rima holds a BA in English language and literature from Mutah University and is a certified translator and language proficiency interviews (LPI) tester. Rima began teaching Arabic as a second language for SIT in 2009. She became the language coordinator in 2012. She has worked as a language coordinator with the Peace Corps and as an Arabic language instructor at the French Cultural Center of Amman and other Arabic language institutions. She is a co-author of Yalla Ndardesh, a modern Jordanian Arabic textbook for non-native speakers of Arabic.

Mohammad Lafee, Language Instructor

Mohammad Lafee obtained a bachelor’s degree in English-Arabic translation from Zarqa University in 2012. Between 2012 and 2014, Mohammad worked as an Arabic language instructor at the Qasid Institute in Amman, where he taught foreign diplomats, university students, and businessmen. In the summer of 2014, he was awarded a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) program scholarship by Fulbright. He spent nine months in the US teaching Arabic and taking courses on language instruction and American culture.

The homestay provides you with an excellent opportunity to experience Jordanian lifestyles, perspectives, and values while learning about health disparities, community development, and sustainability in Jordan.


AmmanYou will spend the entire program period, other than the time on excursions, living with a homestay family in Amman. The homestay provides you with an outstanding window into Jordanian urban life and culture. Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of the typical Arab home.

Homestay families may include first- or second-generation Palestinian refugees in Jordan, now a major component of Jordanian social and cultural life. You will be integrated into your host family's daily life, partaking in everyday activities such as sharing breakfast, participating in family outings, and shopping. In some cases, you will have the opportunity to experience a Jordanian wedding ceremony or other traditional cultural activities organized by the host family or relatives. The homestay in Amman allows you to better understand the life of a Jordanian family and gives you a unique opportunity to further enhance your speaking abilities.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels, research institutes, or small hotels.

A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Intern, Save the Children, Amman, Jordan
  • Heart Failure and Transplant Clinical Research Study Coordinator, Cardiovascular Division, University of Utah Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Analyst, IMS Consulting Group, New York, New York

Program Dates: Spring 2017

Program Arrival Date:  Feb 8, 2017

Program Departure Date:    May 23, 2017

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 3, 2016


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,340

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • The international refugee regime
    • Geopolitical background of refugees and displaced populations in the Middle East
    • Socio-economic impact of refugees on Jordan's economy and social sectors
    • Gender-related risk of displacement
    • Refugees and social identity: the challenges of relocation and integration
    • Humanitarian action principles and minimum standards
    • The status and challenges of providing healthcare to refugee populations during and after emergency phases
    • The international humanitarian system
  • Research Methods and Ethics course on research methods and Human Subjects Review to prepare students for successful completion of primary field research in Jordan for the Independent Study Project
  • Intensive language instruction in Arabic
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana Nature Reserve, Aqaba, and the international excursion to Geneva, Switzerland, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period 

Room & Board: $3,060

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Amman), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project (appropriate stipend provided), and during the final evaluation period.
  • Homestay (twelve weeks in Amman)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 60

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 250

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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