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IHP/Comparative: Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care (Spring 2)

IHP/Comparative: Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care (Spring 2)

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

This program strengthens students' ability to understand, interpret, and compare the biological, ecological, economic, political, and socio-cultural factors that affect human health. From South Asia to South Africa, in city neighborhoods and rural villages, students learn to listen to and understand multiple voices: people in local communities, governing bodies, and nongovernmental agencies.

Key Questions:

  • Is health a fundamental human right? If so, who is responsible for guaranteeing it?
  • How can a deeper understanding of culture transform our view of health?
  • What can be done about the health divide — between rich and poor, urban and rural — that exists in many countries?
  • How do grassroots activism and top-down approaches conflict with or complement one another?

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

New Orleans, LA, USA

(2 weeks)
For much of its early history, New Orleans was the second-largest port city in the US. People arrived in New Orleans in radically different capacities. The city's particular history has strongly shaped the kinds of access that various sectors of society have to different types of resources and the accumulation of financial and social power. The legacies of disparity along the lines of race, class, language, and nationality have resulted in structural inequities that play out in all facets of daily life and wellbeing—from issues of health and education, to city design and employment trends. Faced with poverty, racial inequities, and a formidable natural environment, New Orleanians have long banded together in civic association to take care of their own medical and social needs, resulting in a strong nonprofit and grassroots activist community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this activist community has grown to include a range of outside organizations and volunteers, who now play a role in shaping the city's future. During the program period in New Orleans, students will hear from a broad array of individuals, including public government officials and on-the-ground activists. They will witness the intersections of community, health, activism, and art in action by exploring New Orleans with local anthropologists, community organizers, and representatives from Tulane University’s School of Public Health.

Hanoi, Vietnam

(4 weeks)
Coordinated by Vu Cong Nguyen
VietnamOne of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant and rapidly developing nations, Vietnam has succeeded in dramatically reducing poverty, yet considerable challenges remain. The most vexing health-related issues include an HIV/AIDS epidemic that threatens to become widespread; the enormous demands placed on health systems from rising rural-to-urban migration; widening inequalities; and worsening environmental conditions. The whirring of motorbikes, the calls of fresh fruit vendors, and the clang of new building projects are sounds that fill the air in Hanoi, where students will be hosted by the Family Health Research and Development Center of CIHP. This dynamic NGO, formed by experienced public health experts, implements a range of health research and development programs, such as an online HIV/AIDS and sexuality counseling service for teens. The Hanoi School of Public Health, Vietnam’s premier public health institution -- known for its applied teaching approach utilizing an array of urban and rural field sites -- will serve as co-hosts. This combination will provide a rare opportunity to study with Vietnam’s finest public health professionals and observe, first-hand, creative efforts to resolve some of the country’s most vexing problems through visits to project and field sites. The program will include homestays in Hanoi, as well as excursions to surrounding rural areas.

Bushbuckridge, South Africa

(5 weeks)
Coordinated by Jan G. Vermeulen
Begin with a brief stay in cosmopolitan Johannesburg, where you’ll learn about South Africa’s multicultural history and the impact of apartheid, as well as recent reform. From the bustling city, venture to the Bushbuckridge region, a collection of rural communities bordered on the east by Kruger National Park, one of the best-known game parks in the world. Sought after by ecotourism enterprises and the government for its natural beauty and resources, the area has been at the center of contentious land struggles, land-use policies, and conservation efforts, which have deeply impacted the health of the indigenous population. Engage in dialogue with people on various sides of the land-use issue. HIV/AIDS, lack of access to land and water, unemployment, and alcoholism are also central themes for consideration. What efforts are underway at the local and national levels to address these challenges and improve conditions in the region? What role can education play in improving health? Diverse homestays provide an opportunity to gain personal perspective and grapple with divergent viewpoints.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

(5 weeks)
Coordinated by Carolina Rovetta
brazilBuenos Aires, capital city of Argentina, is a European style, friendly, and bustling city of 14,000,000 inhabitants. Shaped by massive waves of immigration, both past and present, this cosmopolitan city stands out because of the delicate equilibrium between tradition and modernity that characterizes it. Immersed in a context of rapid growth and globalized development since mid 2000, Argentina plays a fundamental role in a region characterized by extreme inequalities in vast sectors of the population. In the Argentine scenario, one of the key and most interesting fields to study is the health sector, which in Argentina looks beyond the traditional polarization between public and private, incorporating a third highly powerful sector represented by the labor unions. A complete free public health system that covers every person residing in the country coexists with two others, a private sector and a semi-private, labor union sector, both powerful and competitive. Buenos Aires, the most important and influential city in Argentina, both politically and economically, is the perfect place to experience and study the complexities of living and surviving in a globalized city immersed in a Latin American context.


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 student observations, guest lectures, and homestay interviews 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.

Globalization and Health – syllabus
(IBPH 3500 / 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.

Health, Culture, and Community – syllabus
(ANTH 3050 / 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.

Public Health: From Biology to Policy – syllabus
(IBPH 3505 / 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 will be 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 will 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
(IBPH 3510 / 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 will 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 (Spring 2)

April 21, 2014
Letter Home from Cape Town, South Africa
A Letter Home from students on the IHP Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care Spring Track 2 program: After nearly 17 hours, including an 8 hour layover in the Singapore Changi airport, we arrived safely in South Africa! In the airport we were immediately welcomed by our country coordinator, Rosie Blake. Upon stepping outside, […]
April 1, 2014
Letter Home from Hanoi, Vietnam
A Letter Home from students on the IHP Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care Spring 2014 Track 2 program: Dear Friends and Family Members of the IHP Spring 2014 Track 2, Greetings from the International Honors Program! We have just spent the last four weeks learning about public health issues in Hanoi, Vietnam. Based […]

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

Sherrilyn ColgySherriLynn 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. From 2005 to 2012, SherriLynn conducted ethnographic research in New Orleans, Louisiana, on disaster recovery, nonprofits, urban traditions, and community-based social activities. Her extensive research drew together issues of globalization and race and health disparities. She also examined how environment, structural inequity, and local policy act as determinants of community well-being. Her research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Virginia Faculty Senate Fellowship award for scholarly achievement and excellence in teaching. SherriLynn is passionate about learning, as well as teaching. Her intellectual interests rest at the nexus of holistic community well-being, ethnography, and ethical considerations of representation. She is currently drafting her research into a book.
SherriLynn has been with SIT since 2011; she has coordinated programs for both the Health and the Cities programs. 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.

Chris Westcott, MA, Program Manager

chris westcottChris is a social justice educator, and changemaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Chris’s professional background combines experience working with social change–oriented study abroad programs, along with on-the-ground experience with grassroots US-based and international NGOs. Before becoming program manager of the Human Rights and Climate Change programs, Chris was a traveling faculty member, then country coordinator with the Cities program. Additionally, Chris was a program facilitator for two years on CIEE Thailand’s study abroad program focusing on globalization and development. Through his work experience with NGOs, Chris has coordinated NYC-based campaigns for worker’s rights and the right to housing and international campaigns for trade justice and sustainable agriculture. For three years, Chris worked in San Francisco as a founding staff member of ENGAGE, a network that organizes returned study abroad students to effect local and global change. Chris has a BA in environmental studies from Bates College, and an MA in international educational development from Columbia University. While at Columbia, Chris was a teaching assistant for courses on social identity, social change, and human rights education.
Carolina Rovetta, MA, Country Coordinator, Argentina

Carolina holds a five-year degree in arts from the University of Buenos Aires and a postgraduate degree in contemporary cinema and theater. She has been working in the field of international education for many years. Carolina is in charge of designing academic and immersion programs in Argentina for students and institutions from abroad. Her focus is on the interaction between academic content and cultural sensitivity. She is very interested in arts and culture and works as a cultural facilitator for the city of Buenos Aires. She has written several pedagogical guides on cultural activities in immersion. Ms. Rovetta serves as an academic advisor for American students studying abroad in Argentina. She first began working with IHP in 2005 and helped establish the Cities in the 21st Century program in Buenos Aires.

Vu Cong Nguyen MD, MPH, Country Coordinator, Vietnam

NguyenNguyen is the deputy director of the Institute of Population Health and Development. He was previously a director of Family Health Research Center, a lecturer at Hanoi Medical School, a program officer with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, and a program officer with Family Health International. Currently, Nguyen is leading several HIV/AIDS research and intervention projects in Vietnam that target most-at-risk populations. He and his staff are also implementing an HIV prevention project targeting young Vietnamese soldiers who are completing mandatory military service. Dr. Nguyen obtained his medical doctorate from Hanoi Medical School in 1993 and a master’s of public health at Brown University in 2005. His expertise includes health systems management, epidemiology, and biostatistics and their applications in public health research, with a special interest in HIV/AIDS. He is also a founder of the Vietnamese Society for HIV/AIDS Medicine and a member of the Vietnamese Public Health Association and American Public Health Association.

Jan G. Vermeulen, MComm, Country Coordinator, South Africa

Jan VermeulenJan commenced his career as a human resources practitioner in the private sector and became a business consultant focusing on executive development, change management, mentorship, performance management, and productivity. Since the early nineties he has worked toward poverty alleviation. He relocated to Bushbuckridge in 1993 where he assisted with the set-up of Pfunanane Co-operative and Credit Union. He established the Bushbuckridge Local Business Service Centre in Acornhoek and Central Business Service Centre (now LIBSA). Recently, he has been consulting as a development practitioner and has been involved with research in natural resource business opportunities, income generation for households headed by children because of AIDS, community leadership development, monitoring and evaluation of the transformation program at Wits University, and tourism-based LED at Greater Tzaneen and Letaba municipalities. Jan obtained an MComm at North-West University. He is registered as a practicing industrial psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Erica Haney, PhD, Traveling Faculty

Erica HaneyErica earned her PhD in public health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also completed her master’s in public health (health behavior) and bachelors of arts (anthropology) with highest honors from the same alma mater. Her research interests include global maternal and child health issues, exploring the role of gender equity in health access and outcomes, the effect of HIV on orphans and vulnerable children, and understanding cultural differences in health conceptualization and the etiology of illness. As a global health researcher and social scientist, her methodological training has focused on both population-centered methodologies and community-based participatory research. Dr. Haney has conducted qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic research in Central Asia, Western Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa with the overarching goal of improving the health and lives of people living in resource-poor countries. Her experience as an SIT student in the program in Mongolia informed and guided her professional trajectory. She is thrilled to be returning to SIT as a faculty member.

Darius Callier, Trustees Fellow


CallierDarius is a graduate student based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he has been pursuing joint master's degrees in development management and policy at Georgetown University and the Universidad Nacional de San Martín. His research is concerned with Senegalese immigrants who have settled in Buenos Aires and the challenges faced around access to housing, education, and healthcare. After graduating from Lehigh University with a BA in political science and philosophy, Darius taught for two years at the elementary and high school levels in Pittsburgh and in Harlem. An alumnus of SIT Study Abroad's program in social movements and human rights in Buenos Aires, Darius has served as a group leader to three Experiment in International Living high school summer abroad programs to Argentina and Spain. He is looking forward working with another study abroad program, to share his passion for public health and experiential learning.

homestayStudents live with a host family for two to four weeks in all locations other than the first country. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program. (Other accommodations include hotels or hostels). Homestay families provide students the opportunity to live as integrated members of their host communities. In sharing daily life, conversations, family stories, celebrations, and community events, students not only learn a tremendous amount, but often develop lasting friendships.

Family structures vary in every place, and SIT Study Abroad values the diversity of homestay families. For example, your 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, in many countries, 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 will arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs. These placements are made first based on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. You will not receive information about your homestay family before you arrive in each country.

Program Dates: Spring 2015

Program Start Date:  Jan 4, 2015

Program End Date:    Apr 26, 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:   Oct 1, 2014


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: $17,350

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Group excursions
  • Emergency sickness and accident insurance
  • Books
  • Other direct program expenses

Airfare: $4,000

  • Group airfare and group related travel

Room & Board:$4,400

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare

International airfares 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:$300

Immunizations varies

Books & Supplies :$100

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during a semester abroad 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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