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Jordan: Health and Community Development

Jordan: Health and Community Development

Examine the impact of regional conflicts on healthcare systems and determinants of health in Jordan. Consider the health status of Jordan population groups including refugees and forcibly displaced persons.

Based in Amman, this program explores the health system, healthcare policy, public health realities, and healthcare infrastructure in urban and rural areas of Jordan and among specific population groups including displaced refugees. Students explore the role of UN agencies, international aid organizations, and civil society associations in facilitating healthcare access to refugees and displaced populations seeking asylum in Jordan.

Major topics of study include:

  • Key health status indices in Jordan and the rise in non-communicable, chronic diseases
  • Links between poverty, health risks, and social development
  • Alternative medical treatment
  • Reproductive and child health
  • Environment and health
  • Public health education 
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

Refugee Camp in Jordan
Field visit to Ruwwad Al Tanmieh, a community development NGO

Students will visit health facilities in Amman and across Jordan and discuss population needs in healthcare and the roles played by UN agencies and NGOs in providing health education to diverse populations, including refugees and Bedouins.

Students will receive intensive language instruction in Modern Standard Arabic through the program's 3-credit language course; a component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is part of the course.

Two homestays — an extended urban stay in Amman and a shorter rural stay with a Bedouin family — offer students the dramatic contrast necessary to contextualize healthcare and community development in urban and rural Jordan.

Independent Study Project

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

Sample topic areas include:

  • Poverty and healthcare in Jordan
  • Refugees and healthcare
  • Health promotion and diet in rural Jordan
  • Medical tourism and local development
  • Obesity and diabetes among female teenagers
  • Impact of water shortage on the health of refugees and Bedouin tribes
  • Media and health promotion
  • Health education and children’s school textbooks
  • Role of private health clinics in health development in Jordan
  • Religion and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Availability of mental healthcare to various groups, including refugees

Access virtual library guide.

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.

Healthcare Systems and Policy in Jordan – syllabus
(MDES 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course is designed to introduce students to the health systems and policies of Jordan in addition to the health status of the population of Jordan, including various refugee groups. The course provides a background to Jordan’s modern history of public health improvements and focuses on the challenges health professionals face, such as chronic health problems typical of a developed nation. The course integrates classroom lectures and field visits to health institutions and associations providing health services to different population groups.

Health, Environment, and Community Development – syllabus
(MDES 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course addresses the intertwined relationship between health, environment, and social development through an examination of the rights to public health, accessibility to health services, environmental protection, and alternative medical resources. The course also explores the social, cultural, political, and environmental determinants of health and the role played by civil society associations in facilitating access to disenfranchised segments of the population. The course relies on the UN Report on Human Development to contextualize the debate on health, environmental protection, and social development in Jordan. This course also addresses the emergence of Jordan as a major center for alternative medical treatment in the region. The course combines classroom lectures by academics and health professionals and field visits to community development projects and development NGOs working in the areas of health development and preventive care.

Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB 1000–1500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB 2000–2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB 3000–3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic through classroom and field instruction. Not only does the course aim to have students use Arabic to express themselves in daily life, but also to develop students’ understanding of Arabic culture through different applications of the language. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. There is further language practice in homestays and field visits. A component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is also part of the course.

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Research Methods and Ethics course aims at blending cross-cultural awareness with conventional academic learning. It focuses on initiating the students to the methods of conducting field research and the ethics involved in the study of health-related issues. Students learn about the cultural particulars of everyday life in urban and rural areas of Jordan and the health resources available to various segments of the population. The lectures address issues that pertain to research methods, confidentiality and anonymity of informants, data gathering, interviewing, and safety and security. The ultimate objective is to prepare students to undertake an Independent Study Project in total respect of in-country ethics and the international ethical norms that regulate health research. At the end of the course, students should have the cultural understanding and the methodological tools to successfully complete an Independent Study Project.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
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; poverty and healthcare in Jordan; health promotion and diet in rural Jordan; medical tourism and local development: the case of the Dead Sea; obesity and diabetes among female teenagers; impact of water shortage on the health of refugees and Bedouin tribes; media and health; health promotion in children’s textbooks; role of private health clinics in health development in Jordan; religion and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

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

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

Carefully designed educational excursions provide students with the opportunity to learn, analyze, and assess Jordan’s health infrastructure and natural medical treatment resources while granting them the possibility to continue improving their research skills outside Amman. Excursions outside Jordan’s bustling capital also allow students to experience the sharp contrasts between urban and rural lifestyles.

wadi rum, JordanBadia (Bedouin Community)

This excursion provides students with the opportunity to explore everyday life in Badia and its effect on health and to assess healthcare resources available to Bedouin populations and alternative medical treatments used by local rural communities. Students also visit rural health centers and meet with doctors and nurses to discuss the main health challenges Bedouin populations face and the medical services available to them.

Southern Excursion

This excursion takes students to southern Jordan. Students visit local health centers and associations that provide health services to local communities. They 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:

  • The Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and 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.
  • 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. Students will experience the reserve’s impressive mountains, the ancient ruins of Feinan, the cliffs of Wadi Dana, and the village Dana.
  • Petra. Students 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, students experience the exceptional hospitality of the desert people and Bedouin tribes and discuss health issues and care systems available to local populations.
  • Mt. Nebo, JordanJerash. Students 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. Students 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. 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. Students will visit the site and enjoy a smaller but still populous Jordanian city. Then, students travel to Mount Nebo, which, according to ancient tradition, is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land.


hospital in turkeyThe program includes an excursion to Istanbul, Turkey, a city that offers a unique blend of East and West. Turkey has emerged as a leading economic, political, and cultural power in the region and many countries in the Middle East look to the Turkish development paradigm as a suitable model to emulate.

In Istanbul, students visit the faculty of medicine at Istanbul University and learn, via interaction with lecturers and public health students, about Turkey’s healthcare system and the health services available to the poor and minorities. Students also visit the university hospital and meet with health professionals to learn about the country’s health systems reform and challenges in the health sector and their implications on Turkey’s accession to the European Union. They also have the opportunity to compare the health systems in Turkey and in modernizing Jordan.

Students meet with peers from Istanbul University and visit Old Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and Suleymaniye Library and Mosque. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a boat cruise on the Bosphorus and visit the eastern side of Istanbul.

Bayan Abdulhaq, PhD, Academic Director

Bayan Abdulhaq Dr. Abdulhaq holds a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from King’s College London KCL/University of 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 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 later 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 Arwa Oweis, PhD, Lecturer

Professor Arwa Oweis is dean of the Faculty of Nursing and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre at Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST). She is a board member and consultant for the Jordanian Nursing Council and a lead participant in the development of the National Strategy for Nursing for the years 2011–2015.

Professor Oweis has been instrumental in establishing links with well-known international agencies including WHO; TEMPUS Joint European Projects; and Hope Foundation, USA, to name a few. She is a consultant for different national and international organizations, including WHO, the National Council for Family Affairs, the Jordanian Council, the Higher Population Council, and the Women's Health Project in the South, among others.

Professor Oweis has published numerous articles in the area of women’s health and violence against women. She is on the editorial board of a number of international nursing refereed journals.

A Jordanian citizen, Professor Oweis obtained her undergraduate degree at Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan (1987); her master's degree in maternal-infant nursing at the University of Alabama, USA (1991); and a doctorate of science in nursing at Widene University, USA (2001).

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

Currently, a professor of psychiatric mental health nursing and head of community health nursing department at the Faculty of Nursing, the 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 area of research is 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 health care 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.

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 back 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.

Dema Matrouk Al Oun, Homestay Coordinator

Dema Al Oun has been working as a homestay coordinator with SIT Study Abroad since 2008. In this capacity, Dema assists with a wide range of homestay arrangements and also works with both students and host families on cross-cultural communication skills. She received her BA and MA in law from the University of Jordan. In addition to her work with SIT Study Abroad, Dema is an active volunteer with the National Center for Human Rights, the Jordan Center for Civil Education Studies, the Jordan Society for Human Rights, and the University of Jordan's Community Service Office. She is also involved in activities with the local community in northern Badia. Dema is a member of the Photographic Society of Jordan and Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Knowledge Center‏.

Rima Al-Akramawi, Language Coordinator and Instructor

Rima Al-Akramawi holds a BA in English language and literature from Mutah University and is a certified translator and language proficiency interviews (LPI) tester. She started working with SIT in Amman as a language instructor in the summer of 2010. Rima has eight years of experience teaching Arabic as a second language. She has worked as a language coordinator with the Peace Corps, and is currently working as an Arabic language instructor at the French Cultural Center of Amman and at the Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic.

Mahmoud Al-Shafie, Language Instructor

Mahmoud Al-Shafie has been a language instructor with SIT since February 2007. He received his BA in education, with a concentration in Arabic, from the University of Jordan, where he also earned a master's degree in curriculum and teaching in Arabic. He recently earned his PhD in curriculum and Arabic teaching methodology at Amman Arab University. Mahmoud worked previously as an Arabic instructor for speakers of other languages at the University of Jordan's Language Center. He has published two novels, Nuzha Fee Jahannam (Picnic in Hell) and La'natu Al-Jasad (Body Curse). His other publications include the series “Noon Wal Qalam, Teaching Arabic for Speakers of Other Languages.”

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. 

The Jordan: Health and Community Development program includes two different homestays, in Amman and in the rural area of Badia. These homestays provide students with an excellent opportunity to experience two highly different lifestyles, perspectives, and values while learning about health disparities, community development, and sustainability in urban and rural Jordan.


AmmanStudents spend the entire program period, other than the time on excursions, living with a homestay family in Amman. The homestay provides students 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. Students are integrated into their host family's daily life, partaking in everyday activities such as sharing breakfast, participating in family outings, and shopping. In some cases, students 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 students to better understand the life of a Jordanian family and gives them a unique opportunity to further enhance their speaking abilities.

Badia (Bedouin Homestay)

Students experience a five-day rural homestay in the Badia area of Jordan, living with a Bedouin family who is either nomadic or semi-nomadic. This excursion provides students with the opportunity to experience firsthand the daily life, culture, and traditions of a Bedouin community, one of Jordan's most distinct and well known groups.

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

Program Dates: Fall 2015

Program Start Date:  Sep 6, 2015

Program End Date:    Dec 18, 2015

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:   Jun 1, 2015


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:
    • Key health status indices in Jordan and the rise in non-communicable, chronic diseases
    • Links between poverty, health risks, and social development
    • Public health education
    • Alternative medical treatment
    • Food and nutrition
    • Reproductive and child health
  • 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 Istanbul, Turkey, 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 and five days in the rural Badia area)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly or 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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