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IHP: Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care (Fall 1)

IHP: Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care (Fall 1)

Learn how communities around the world understand and strive for health and well-being.

This program will strengthen your ability to understand, interpret, and compare the socio-cultural, ecological, economic, political, and biological factors that affect human health. From North America to South Asia and Africa to South America, in city neighborhoods and rural villages, you will learn to listen to and understand multiple voices: people in local communities, governing bodies and nongovernmental agencies, caregivers, and those receiving care.

Key Questions:

  • How can a deeper understanding of culture transform our view of health?
  • Is health a fundamental human right? If so, who is responsible for guaranteeing it?
  • What can be done about the health inequities — between rich and poor, urban and rural — that exist around the world?
  • What is the role of public health in the global context? How do the forces of globalization impact health and healthcare?
  • How do grassroots activism and top-down approaches conflict with or complement one another?
  • What is the role of community in health and well-being? And, how do different people understand what it is to be a healthy person in varied cultural contexts?

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

Washington, DC, US

(2 weeks)
Washington, DCThe seat of government for one of the richest nations in the world and hub of international policymaking, Washington, DC, is also home to among the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. Hear from global health experts from the World Bank, influential think tanks, and international NGOs, while observing firsthand how health inequities affect those living within earshot of the halls of world political power. Investigate some of the many social determinants of health, such as gender, housing, racism, sexual orientation, access to education, citizenship status, and income. By meeting with locals, you will examine how inequities in these factors led to some of our country’s worst health outcomes. Over the course of the two weeks in DC, you will gain deeper insight into the many challenges of and solutions to health and disease at the national and local levels, while setting the stage for your exploration of similar issues internationally. You will explore the diverse neighborhoods and local NGOs of DC; meet with community leaders, activists, and government officials; and begin to develop your own toolbox for effecting change by learning from the successes and failures of others. You will learn about BRICS countries in relation to health and globalization and delve into the four interdisciplinary courses that make up the Health and Community program, all while connecting with new friends and exploring the political heart of the nation.

Delhi, India

India(4 weeks)
India is a world power with a burgeoning economy and a population that will soon surpass that of China. Delhi, India’s capital city, provides the base for exploration of health in India. Here, you will examine the mental and physical health challenges faced by farmers, sexual minorities, and the urban poor. How do lack of access to clean water and food and infectious diseases like HIV and malaria compound these challenges? Examine how such a large and diverse nation addresses the double burden of its infectious disease epidemics and burgeoning chronic disease prevalence, as its population both grows and ages. What roles do public and private entities play in developing solutions?

Cape Town, South Africa

(5 weeks)
South AfricaSouth Africa, with its history of apartheid, brings into sharp focus the role of race in determining health. You will reflect on how social and health inequities are manifested in India and in your own country as compared to South Africa. Homestays in a small community in Cape Town and in a rural black township allow you to see and experience, firsthand, how recent change in political structure affects health and community life — in profoundly positive ways, as grassroots health activism is burgeoning, and in equally disturbing ways, as deep disparities in health persist. The urgency of the HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics is nowhere more visible. Hear from and interact with community activists, physicians, public health practitioners, and officials as they seek to understand how and why the HIV/AIDS epidemic has ravaged communities in South Africa. Farmland, pesticides, and health will be the environmental focus of the program, and you will be challenged to understand domestic and political violence in the context of the country’s social relations. Amidst the multiple public health “crises” that face South Africa, probe the promise of community activism as a transforming influence in the lives of all people.

São Paulo, Brazil

(5 weeks)
The world has its eyes on Brazil. A throbbing center of rich and varied cultural life in Latin America for decades, Brazil has emerged as a major economy and model of participatory democracy. After a period of military dictatorship, Brazil’s new constitution, sanctioned in 1988, established health as a fundamental social right and called for access to social and medical care services for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of skin color, income, social status, or gender. What is the reality today? Sâo Paulo, the largest city in the Americas and a cultural melting pot, is an ideal place to study the progress and problems of healthcare in Brazil. You will witness model HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs in action and consider how they differ from programs in South Africa, India, and the United States. Although successful in some ways, why does Brazil continue to see wide variations in child and maternal mortality and rates of infectious disease? What can pockets of success show us about the way forward in other regions of the country, in the United States, and throughout the world? Other themes will include migrant health on the sugar plantations that fuel Brazil's growing biodiesel industry; “social medicine” as it relates to violence reduction; and family planning, sexuality, and reproductive health.


None, but previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in public health, anthropology, biology, or other related fields is strongly recommended.

Access virtual library guide.

The program takes a holistic, interdisciplinary view of academic topics, drawing not only on articles and faculty lectures, but also experiential education in the form of student observations and experiences in the field, with guest lectures and homestay families to facilitate learning. Assignments typically involve written essays, oral presentations, and more creative projects such as posters and photo stories.

Students enrolled on this program take all courses listed below for a total course load of 16 credits.

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. 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.

Health, Culture, and Community – syllabus coming soon
(ANTH3500 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
Medical anthropology serves as the theoretical foundation for this course. It seeks to strengthen students' ability to understand, interpret, and compare how personal and community identity, health and well-being, illness, and healing are understood within diverse cultural contexts. The course examines the philosophy and practices characteristic of biomedicine and a wide range of traditional and other systems of health and healing, as well as the reality of medical pluralism in the lives of individuals. In so doing, the course covers themes of health and healing pertinent across the life span — from birth to death. Throughout, students are encouraged to support their comparative understanding with an exploration of their own assumptions and practices related to identity, health, and healing.

Globalization and Health – syllabus
(IBPH3500 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
Nations at all levels of development vary in their commitment and capacity to define healthcare as a human right and provide healthcare to their citizens equitably. Some have created systems to provide basic healthcare, yet struggle with other factors that influence health, while others position healthcare as an economic commodity subject to market forces. This course provides a framework for comparing the organization and financing of health systems and health policy-making across the countries visited. It examines the political economy of health, with special attention to the impact of international governance, economic, and trade policies. Students gain skills in critical thinking, policy analysis, and debate, supported by research, observation, and exposure to varied perspectives among in-country experts.

Public Health: From Biology to Policy – syllabus
(IBPH3505 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
This course begins with an overview of global and national health trends in the context of demographic shifts and development. In each country visited, a significant health condition is addressed: What are the biological mechanisms of disease? How is disease distributed in the country's populations? What public health interventions are supported by empirical evidence? In light of social, cultural, economic, and political conditions, how can such evidence be applied in the local context? Specific considerations studied range from infectious to "lifestyle" and chronic illnesses, e.g., diarrheal diseases of early childhood, adult mental health, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

Community Health Research Methods – syllabus
(IBPH3510 /4 credits / 60 class hours)
This course seeks to strengthen students' competence in inquiry-guided learning through field-based case studies. The course begins with an introduction to the philosophic traditions of ethnography, epidemiology, and health services research — complementary and sometimes conflicting. It then teaches and gives students the opportunity to apply the chief tools of each tradition (e.g., participant observation, in-depth interviewing, community surveys, mapping, interpreting data analyses, and oral presentation of findings). In each country, students choose from a range of available field case study topics/sites as the primary venue for demonstrating their field research and presentation skills.

These letters home are from previous terms. Site locations may vary from term to term.

Letters Home: Health (Fall 1)

October 28, 2015
IHP Health and Community Track 1 Fall 2015 – India
After two weeks in Washington DC, we were so excited to arrive in our first overseas destination: Delhi, India. Upon arrival, the IHP staff warmly welcomed us with traditional flowers and bindis. We were also greeted by a sensory overload of crazy sights, smells, and many loud horns. In addition to a schedule packed with […]
October 28, 2015
IHP Health and Community Track 1 Fall 2015 – Washington DC
Hello friends, family (miss you mom!), interested students, and curious internet wanderers, We are 27 students from various universities in the United States studying this fall semester in DC, India, South Africa, and Brazil in the “Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care” program. This semester is very different from a typical semester in college, […]
September 24, 2015
IHP Fall 2015 Health and Community Track 2 San Francisco
Greetings from San Francisco!   After hours of travel from locations across the United States, our group of twenty-two students arrived in the Mission District of San Francisco. The IHP Health & Community staff team greeted us with warmth and enthusiasm! After our opening session and saying goodbye to families and friends, we moved all […]

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

SherriLynn Colby-Bottel, PhD, Program Director

Sherrilynn Colby-Bottel

SherriLynn Colby-Bottel received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia in 2012. She also completed a BA in anthropology (1998) and an MA in music (2001), with distinction, at California State University, Fresno. From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Colby-Bottel conducted ethnographic research in New Orleans, Louisiana, on disaster recovery, nonprofits, urban traditions, and community-based social activities. Her extensive research drew together many of the issues highlighted by disaster and recovery: how racial inequities align with health disparities, the impact of globalization on everyday life, the ethical considerations of representation and rebuilding, how environment and social policy act as determinants of community health, and the vital role of community in one’s ability to achieve personal health and well-being. The National Science Foundation and the University of Virginia Faculty Senate Fellowship award for scholarly achievement and excellence in teaching supported her longitudinal research.
SherriLynn is passionate about teaching, learning, and collaborative intellectual projects. She has worked and volunteered for several nonprofit organizations in the last decade while also researching how nonprofit organizations retain and reward labor. Her current intellectual interests are focused on holistic community well-being, ethnography, and the ethical considerations of representation. SherriLynn has been with SIT since 2011; she has coordinated programs for both the Health and the Cities programs in addition to serving as director for the Health and Community program. She has worked in higher education for more than a dozen years as both teacher and administrator at California State University, Fresno; the University of New Orleans; and the University of Virginia.

Anna Gail Caunca, MA, Program Manager

Anna Gail Caunca

Anna Gail's previous work experience has focused on the areas of youth and young adult leadership development, community-building, residential life and student welfare, international education, and human rights education. Building on her graduate studies in social justice and international education, Anna Gail worked with World Learning’s Youth Leadership and Peacebuilding Programs, facilitating workshops with the Governor’s Institute of Vermont on current issues and youth activism and traveling with and supporting students through the LondonX and Iraqi Youth Leadership Program for two years. In 2013, she traveled as the IHP Trustees’ Fellow for the inaugural year of the Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy program. After four adventurous years living in Wellington, New Zealand, she is excited for a new chapter as the IHP program manager in 2015.

Anna Gail earned her BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She graduated from SIT Graduate Institute with an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management and received her educator’s licensure in secondary education in social studies, incorporating social justice in the classroom. She is a vegetarian, photographer-in-the-making, and running enthusiast with a hearty laugh.

Susan Sakash, Program Assistant

Susan Sakash lives in New Orleans, where she is pursuing her master’s degree in social innovation and sustainability through Goddard College, a low-residency, self-directed learning program based in Vermont. Her graduate research is focused on strengthening solidarity and cooperative economies. More specifically, she has been looking at how these frameworks and strategies inform the myriad local food system efforts both within the city of New Orleans and across the Deep South.

While in high school at Phillips Exeter Academy, Susan lived with a homestay family in Cuernavaca, Mexico, for two months. In college, she did a Spanish-immersion study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. Susan received her BA from Wesleyan University in 2000.  

For the past fifteen years, Susan has explored questions of how people and communities grow stronger through mutual aid and collective action. Her approaches to this inquiry have run the gamut — from curating socially engaged public art projects in Dublin, Ireland, to living in intentional communities in Costa Rica, to organizing activist street band festivals in Providence, Rhode Island. She spent the better part of the last decade working as a fund development professional for community-based nonprofits such as Raw Art Works in Lynn, Massachusetts, and Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, Rhode Island, before relocating to New Orleans. Susan's free time is consumed by playing the trombone, roasting her own coffee, growing food, and maintaining an active compost pile at her neighborhood community garden. 

Lindsey Gillies, Launch Coordinator, Washington, DC

Lindsey is an alumna of the International Honors Program and is excited to be joining the Health and Community team as the Washington, DC, launch coordinator. Lindsey is a Vermont licensed midwife (LM) and a certified professional midwife (CPM) since 2014. She has a passion for fertility work, nutrition, and herbal wellness, and brings with her years of work in the areas of female empowerment and reproductive justice. She has served the Vermont community as both a birth doula and childbirth educator. Additionally, she has worked in mental health services with survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.

Her background includes a comprehensive academic and clinical training at Maternidad La Luz, a high-volume freestanding birth center on the border in El Paso, Texas. Additionally, she successfully completed an intensive academic midwifery program with Mercy in Action in Boise, Idaho. Lindsey holds a BA in English and environmental studies from the University of Vermont.

Gillies is one of the founding members of Rising Tide Vermont. With Rising Tide Vermont, she has organized numerous direct action trainings and events across the northeast, and is currently working on the campaign to stop the fracked gas pipeline. She also serves on the board of directors of the Global Justice Ecology Project.

Lindsey studied on an IHP program in 2008–2009 as an ungraduated. In the spring of 2015, she served as a Trustees’ Fellow with Health and Community. She is excited to return to work with IHP.

Abid Siraj, Country Coordinator, India

Abid SirajAbid has been working with SIT Study Abroad as an academic coordinator for the India: Health and Human Rights program since January 2011. He holds a master's degree in social work, with a specialization in reproductive and child health. Abid has over 12 years of experience in the public health field in India. Previously, he worked for a USAID-funded project on the role of local self-government in the promotion of reproductive and child health. He also served as project coordinator of the USAID-funded Community-Based Distribution Project of Family Planning Methods. He was part of a pioneering team that implemented a flagship public health program for the government of India's National Rural Health Mission in Rajasthan. Abid was also involved with one of UNICEF's largest communication and social mobilization initiatives, the intensive immunization of pulse polio in Uttar Pradesh. He was a visiting faculty for SIT Study Abroad before joining SIT full-time in India.

Rose Blake, Country Coordinator, South Africa

Rose BlakeRose Blake is currently writing a PhD dissertation in social anthropology. The research for her PhD was conducted in the township of Zwelethemba and focuses on the tensions leading to intergenerational conflict between close female kin (grandmothers, mothers, and granddaughters) around care and domesticity. It focuses in particular on the impacts of HIV/AIDS, the social grant system, and widespread unemployment on these relationships. Rose holds a master’s degree in medical anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and in the past has conducted research into the experiences of children receiving in-patient chemotherapy at a large provincial children’s hospital in South Africa. She has been involved in coordinating the Cape Town portion of spring and fall Health and Community programs since 2010, and she served as program manager for the IHP Health and Community program in 2012–13.

Glenda de la Fuente, MA, Country Coordinator, Brazil

Glenda de la FuenteGlenda de la Fuente holds a bachelor’s degree in translation and a postgraduate degree from King’s College, University of London, in applied linguistics and English language teaching. She was a professor for and coordinator of the extracurricular English program at the University of Buenos Aires, where she was in charge of teacher training courses. Since 1987, she has been a member of the Humanist Movement, an international volunteer organization engaged in the promotion of equity and human rights worldwide; through this work, she has served as a lecturer and promoter of grassroots groups committed to the principles of nonviolence and nondiscrimination in Argentina, Paraguay, Spain, and Brazil. Born in Argentina, for the last nine years she has lived in São Paulo, where she currently works as a freelance conference interpreter and translator. She also promotes humanist education programs with community-based groups. She has been the country coordinator of the SIT Study Abroad / IHP Cities program since 2008, and since 2010 she has also coordinated the SIT Study Abroad / IHP Health and Community program in São Paulo.

Joshua Cohen, PhD, Traveling Faculty

Joshua Cohen is an anthropologist whose interests include a passion for teaching and learning with students; the interrogation of global systems and regimes of power and knowledge; and relationships between human well-being, environment and political economy. He recently submitted his PhD thesis in social anthropology at the University of Cape Town (UCT). His doctoral work followed disparate practices of knowledge production, centering on plants used for healing, in rural areas in Namaqualand, South Africa. He followed local kruiedokters (herb doctors) and molecular biologists as they each made sense of, and attempted to tap, the healing potential of plants growing in the rocky Namaqualand landscape. His master’s studies, also in social anthropology and based at UCT, explored relationships between political-economic realities, landscapes, plants, and well-being in the Klein Karoo region of South Africa.

Jillian Blouin, Trustees’ Fellow

Jillian is an alumna of the Health and Community program (2012) and is incredibly enthusiastic to take on a new role in the program as the Trustees’ Fellow. She has worked in outdoor education, grassroots movements, and mental health services and with a national research study. Since graduating from Colby College in 2013 with a BA in biology and environmental studies, Jillian has dedicated herself to learning about the health of her community in Maine. She first worked at a peer support and recovery center for adults living with severe and persistent mental health illness. She then provided operational support for the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Jillian has a background as a Wilderness First Responder and an outdoor trip leader. She has traveled with student groups of varied ages across California and New England. Community building has been at the center of her past experiences, and she plans to bring this strength to the traveling team. Jillian is an outdoor enthusiast, an avid taster of world cuisines, and an aspiring healthcare professional.

homestay in South Africa

You will live with a host family for between three and four weeks at each program site, with the exception of the first location. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.

Homestay families provide you with the opportunity to live as an integrated member of the host communities. In sharing daily life, conversations, family stories, celebrations, and community events, you will not only learn a tremendous amount, but also develop lasting friendships.

Family structures vary in every place, and SIT values the diversity of homestay families. For example, the host family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.

Country coordinators in each location arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students are placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. You will not receive information about homestay families until you arrive in each country.

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:

  • Co-Founder and Executive Director, Spark MicroGrants, New York, New York, and multiple locations in Africa
  • Managing Director, Food Loft, Boston, Massachusetts 
  • Intern, Office of Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC
  • Primary Care Intern, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Program Dates: Fall 2016

Program Start Date:  Aug 21, 2016

Program End Date:    Dec 10, 2016

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:   Apr 1, 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: Not yet available.

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Content and logistics for field programs in Washington, DC; Delhi; Cape Town; and São Paulo
  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Locally taught classes
      • Public Health
      • Globalization and Health
    • Classes taught by traveling faculty
      • Health, Culture, and Community
      • Community Health Research Methods
  • Guest lectures and panel discussions
  • Site visit hosts and facilitators
  • Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
  • All educational excursions to rural stays, including all related travel costs
  • Traveler’s health insurance throughout the entire program period 
  • Instructional materials
  • Other direct program costs

Note: Vacation costs are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for this.

Airfare: Not yet available.

  • Group airfare during the program
  • Airfare includes a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program

Room & Board: Not yet available.

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • All homestays in Delhi, Cape Town, and São Paulo
  • 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:

Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site

Domestic 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: $ 275

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: Not yet available.

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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SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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