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Public Health in Urban Environments

Examine urban epidemiology and the challenges and inequities in public health policy in Buenos Aires.

At a Glance




3 semesters Spanish, Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study


Courses taught in



Aug 28 – Dec 10

Program Countries


Program Base

Buenos Aires

Critical Global Issue of Study

Global Health & Well-being

Development & Inequality


Why study public health in Argentina?

More than 30 percent of Argentina’s population lives in greater Buenos Aires. Living here, you’ll see marked contrasts of wealth and poverty and related disparities in health. You’ll benefit from SIT’s close partnership with ISALUD, the nation’s top health university and think tank. You’ll also have access to senior public officials and other health professionals and advocates.

Excursions will provide opportunities to compare health services and systems in different areas. In Buenos Aires, you will explore how health systems organize by dialoguing with people and experts and visiting various services from small community centers to the country’s largest and most complex pediatric hospital. In Mendoza, you will learn about using primary healthcare to improve access to health services. In Tucumán, one of the country’s most impoverished provinces, you will learn about the role of civil society in promoting health. By volunteering with a Red Cross community project, you will experience how NGOs work together with governmental institutions to improve community health and living conditions

You will also develop Spanish language skills related to public health issues and practice through daily interactions with lecturers, healthcare practitioners, and host families.


  • Study in Buenos Aires, home to renowned health institutions.
  • Examine significant social and economic disparities in health.
  • Benefit from SIT’s partnership with important health institutions and professionals throughout the country.
  • Learn Spanish with a focus on public health.


Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT. At least one college-level course in public or global health, medicine, nursing, development studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, community development, environmental science, social sciences, or other related fields recommended but not required.

program map



Mendoza’s health system has long used primary healthcare to make health services more accessible. The six-day excursion will focus on how this strategy is implemented. You will visit urban and rural communities and meet with public health professionals, health promoters, social security health services, private health providers, and other stakeholders. At the Universidad del Aconcagua, you will discuss Mendoza’s epidemiological profile and health and social policies with experts and be mentored by students from the university’s school of medicine.


Located in the province of Buenos Aires, Tigre is a riverside getaway and the point of entry Paraná Delta, one of the largest deltas in the world. With its labyrinthine network of islands and canals, it is a unique biodiverse environment offering  a completely different landscape from the city. This incredible natural reserve is at risk by river pollution and the advancement of luxury real estate developments.

During a two-day excursion, you will discover this unique natural environment and learn about the challenges that water contamination and changes in river flows pose to healthy leaving conditions for lower-income populations.

Visiting a community health center in one of Tigre´s most impacted neighborhoods, you will hear from social actors involved in addressing health problems that cross poverty and damaged environments, and you will have the chance to discuss the role of the environment in sustainable development.


Although it is considered one of the most impoverished  provinces in Argentina,  Tucumán has a well-established health system and strong civil society organizations. Since the 2001 economic crisis, there have been significant efforts to improve social and health services and living conditions, and NGOs have played a key role in giving voice to less advantaged populations. During this six-day excursion, you will learn how the provincial healthcare system is organized and how governmental and nongovernmental institutions complement their efforts to make social and health services available to vulnerable populations. You will be trained to actively participate with Red Cross volunteers on a community project.

La Plata

Get to know the capital of the province of Buenos Aires, one of the few cities in Latin America that was planned even before it was inhabited; a city that has one of the most important universities of the country. Here we learn about the work of non-governmental organizations advocating for the elderly. We incorporate tools to analyze how cities can be more age-friendly and how to achieve active and healthy aging. We talk with the elderly who are beneficiaries of public policies, and experts from the National University of La Plata.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Analyze the Argentine health system and public policies that address population health needs.  
  • Articulate the existing barriers to achieving universal health coverage in Argentina. 
  • Identify public health issues in Argentina using epidemiological tools and measures and applying the social determinants of health framework. 
  • Synthesize data collected through ethical public health-related research or an internship experience in a final report in Spanish. 
  • Enhance your intercultural and Spanish communicative proficiency living with a local homestay family, collaborating with local communities, and working with a diverse team in a respectful and ethical manner. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Health system organization
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  • The political process of defining a public health agenda
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  • Social determinants of health
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  • Intercultural barriers to quality care
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  • Chronic diseases in urban environments
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  • Health needs specific to urban environments

Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Health

Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Health – syllabus
(IPBH3000 / 3 credits)

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on Argentina’s epidemiological profile. Students explore the relationship between urban environments and the health of city residents. While recent public health sector achievements have improved the living conditions of many urban dwellers, great inequalities and inequities in health still exist. Through readings, lectures, and educational site visits, students critically analyze contemporary health challenges as they relate to epidemiology and social determinants of health. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Health Systems, Policies, and Programs

Health Systems, Policies and Programs – syllabus
(IPBH3005 / 3 credits)

In this seminar, students explore the emergence of healthcare systems and policies within Argentina’s broader social, political, and economic history. Students examine healthcare at different scales of analysis, comparing national, provincial, and local health systems as well as private, public, and socialized healthcare throughout the country. Students investigate firsthand the disparities in health and equity as they research alternative policies designed to reduce inequality. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Public Health Research Methods and Ethics

Public Health Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(IPBH3500 / 3 credits)

This research methods course is designed to prepare students for an Independent Study Project or internship. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students learn and practice a range of methods appropriate for health-related research. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to health issues and medicine and are guided through the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic or internship placement, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project or internship related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Spanish for the Health Sciences

Spanish for the Health Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Health Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Health Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for the Health Sciences IV – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits)

In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional health science literature as they learn the formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss health policy issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings related to the program themes (such as clinics, community associations, and government offices). Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.

Independent Study Project or Internship

Choose one of the following two courses.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Buenos Aires or in another approved location appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Sample topic areas: health problems associated with urban lifestyles, grassroots advocacy and healthcare services; AIDS policy and care; public health consequences of environmental contamination; gender and reproductive rights; challenges to achieving sustainable development goals in Argentina; healthcare access among immigrant populations.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Grassroots advocacy and healthcare services
  • AIDS policy and care
  • Public health consequences of environmental contamination
  • Gender and reproductive rights
  • Challenges to achieving sustainable development goals in Argentina
  • Healthcare among immigrant and other vulnerable populations
  • Popular and patients’ perspectives on implementation of social and health policies.

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


Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This seminar consists of a four-week internship working with a local social organization, health services and research institutions in the City of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires province, Tucumán or Mendoza. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a project or activity that address a need identified by the organization. An internship advisor/mentor appropriate to the organization/institution is also selected. Mentors are usually host country research professionals. During the internship, students will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops to share and reflect on their experience in the field and discuss their work progress. In conducting their internship students directly utilize the concepts and skills of field-based learning. The internship will be conducted in Spanish.

Sample internships

  • Working in different community projects with Red Cross in Buenos Aires and Tucumán province
  • Collaborating with health programs teams at primary healthcare centers and hospitals in Buenos Aires, Tucumán, and Mendoza province
  • Assisting the work of different hospital services at public hospitals in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Tucumán province
  • Working in health promotion and directing educational and recreational activities at daycare centers for elders in Buenos Aires
  • Supporting social organizations promoting access to social and health rights in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area
  • Supporting families with hospitalized children
  • Assisting the work of health research centers and social policy think tanks teams in Buenos Aires.


Buenos Aires

The Buenos Aires homestay begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester. Living with a host family gives you an excellent opportunity to practice your Spanish and partake in daily life in a local neighborhood. Host families come from different social and cultural backgrounds and live in various neighborhoods around the city, such as Almagro, Caballito, Monserrat, Barrio Norte, and Palermo. They play a key role in facilitating your cultural immersion and social integration into city life. All homestay sites have good access to ISALUD University.

Excursion & Orientation Accommodations

Small hotels or hostels

Career Paths

Alumni of this program are:

  • working in health and social services for immigrant populations.

  • evaluating public health programs at The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC

  • in a PhD program implementing a program of "narrative medicine" in La Paz, Bolivia.

  • conducting research as a Fulbright scholar in Mexico.

  • working in a maternal health literacy program

  • working with the Peace Corps in Peru.

Faculty & Staff

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments

Mariano San Martin, PhD Candidate bio link
Mariano San Martin, PhD Candidate
Academic Director
Dana Merwaiss bio link
Dana Merwaiss
Academic Coordinator
Maria Florencia Rodriguez bio link
Maria Florencia Rodriguez
Homestay Coordinator
Valeria Lliubaroff bio link
Valeria Lliubaroff
Academic Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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