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Global Health and Development Policy

Learn about global health and comparative public health systems within the framework of international and sustainable development, humanitarian action, human rights, and social justice, and compare the distinct public health systems of Switzerland and Morocco.

At a Glance




Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study


Courses taught in



Sep 2 – Dec 15

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Global Health & Well-being


Why study abroad in Switzerland?

Geneva is the world capital of public health and sustainable development organizations, making it the ideal place to study global health and development policy. Meet with experts for briefings and lectures at the World Health Organization (WHO), International Committee of the Red Cross, and IOM, among others. An eight-day excursion to Morocco, including the modern capital Rabat and a rural area, allows you to compare and contrast public health systems in two countries and contextualize the impact of development on health.


  • Have onsite briefings with experts at WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières and other IGOs and NGOs.
  • Explore Switzerland with a travel pass offering free public transportation.
  • Rapidly improve your French language skills through intensive instruction.
  • Enjoy eight days in Morocco examining health systems and development up close.


Previous college-level coursework or background in development studies, public health, or the social, economic, and political sciences, as assessed by SIT. No previous background in French is required. Students with a background in French will have multiple opportunities to practice their French language skills.

program map



You’ll spend eight days in the modern Muslim country of Morocco. After a short stay in the capital city of Rabat, where you will have lectures on the Moroccan national health system, you will experience an excursion to the country’s rural area, where you will have an opportunity to participate in a communal health campaign.

During your study program, you’ll compare and contrast public health systems in Morocco and Switzerland in the context of their very different political, cultural, and economic realities. You will also examine the impact of development policies on public health in rural areas.

In addition, you’ll experience Morocco’s world-famous cuisine and hospitality, and cultural diversity including the country’s francophone environment.

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: 

  • Explain the roles and mandates of lead international agencies in the field of health, humanitarian action, human rights, and human development. 
  • Identify the main determinants as well as the double burden of health in the context of high-, middle-, and low-income countries. 
  • Compare various national health systems and evaluate the correlation between international health regulations and local public health settings. 
  • Analyse the performance of the sustainable development goals in view of public- and global health outcomes. 
  • Synthesize the learning acquired on the program in the form of an Independent Study Project research paper in the field of global health and development policy.  
  • Develop professional networking skills in a cosmopolitan place like Geneva, world capital city of global health, and an institutional environment combining English and French-speaking professional communities. 
  • Enhance communicative proficiency in French. 

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 security and international health regulations
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  • Links between health, human rights, the environment, and development
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  • Understanding vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees
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  • Healthcare interventions in complex emergencies

Development Policy and Health

Development Policy and Health – syllabus
(IPBH3005 / 3 credits)

The course reviews contemporary public health issues, focusing on a few selected current priorities in global health. It also explores how development impacts international and local health policy as well as the effects of such policies on local realities as they relate to the health sector in the developing world. The course reviews the roles international development as well as non-governmental agencies play in public health.

Perspectives on Global Health

Perspectives on Global Health – syllabus
(IPBH3000 / 3 credits)

This course explores current issues impacting global public health in populations affected by humanitarian crises, such as armed conflicts, disasters, displacement, and planetary emergencies. The course also analyzes the impact of violations of human rights, with an emphasis on the rights to health, water, and food, and the effects of climate change on global health and the protection of the environment (planetary health).


Beginning French I – syllabus
(FREN1003 / 3 credits)

Beginning French II – syllabus
(FREN1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French I – syllabus
(FREN2003 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French II – syllabus
(FREN2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced French I – syllabus
(FREN3003 / 3 credits)

Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

The Research Methods & Ethics seminar provides the theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools for conducting field research in a new cultural environment. The main emphasis of the seminar is on the development of interactive research skills involving the collection of primary data. The theoretical part of the seminar includes lectures on qualitative methods of research in social sciences, development policy, and public health, interactive research techniques, and the development of a research proposal. The seminar also includes practical exercises such as the organization and conduct of interviews with experts in Switzerland, preparation of an Independent Study Project (ISP) proposal, application for review of research with human subjects, a local case study, and the integration of primary data into a research project. The ethical implications of field research will be examined throughout. The seminar helps develop the skills necessary to navigate both the local and international institutional environments of Geneva. Students undertake field visits to learn the specificities of local and international cultures and institutions.

The overall aim is to enable students to master experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an ISP, which takes into account data gathered from primary sources. The RME course is also thematically supporting and corresponding with select Perspectives on Global Health and Development Policy and Health modules, including on Qualitative Research in the field of Public Health; Data, Research and Evidence; Health & Anthropology.

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

The Independent Study Project (ISP) is a self-designed research project offering students the opportunity to undertake a personally significant and independent investigation, which highlights the regional and cultural reality that can only be encountered during a study abroad experience. The ISP is the academic component in which the student most directly applies the concepts, skills, tools, and techniques of experience-based learning articulated through the Research Methods and Ethics (RME) course and the thematic courses, Perspectives on Global Health and Development Policy and Health, while enabling students to further integrate their language skills and the contacts they have developed at the level of the international community in Geneva, as well as the regional (Swiss, European) levels. Each student will plan, develop, and independently undertake a research project with the advice from and guidance of the academic director and the academic advisor or a local academic and/or health, development or humanitarian expert or professional.

The topic of study may be anything of interest to the student, within the scope of the program, and is usually developed out of lectures, discussions, field visits, and educational excursions. The final project should provide material evidence of student capability in utilizing appropriate methodologies and in synthesizing experiences in the host culture including the complex of international agencies in Geneva.

Sample topic areas:

  • Development and health in complex emergencies
  • The healthcare sector in humanitarian relief
  • International human rights to health
  • Mental health in developing countries
  • Migration and health
  • International, national, and regional response to epidemics and pandemics
  • Water and health
  • Noncommunicable diseases
  • The paradox of malnutrition
  • Public health and food security in least developed countries



You’ll spend 14 weeks living with a Swiss or international family outside Nyon. During the homestay, you may enjoy outings with your host families like skiing, tennis, swimming and/or hiking. Cultural events include music festivals, art exhibitions, museums, and theaters.

Homestay families are usually middle class and reflect the cultural diversity of Switzerland; many speak more than one language (often German, English, and/or Italian) in addition to French. Living with your homestay family will help you improve your French language skills and gain insight into the traditional values of Switzerland, such as tolerance, federalism, neutrality, and direct democracy.

Nyon is located on the shores of Lake Geneva, about 15 miles from downtown Geneva, and most homestay families live within the surrounding area. You will commute to classes and program activities in Nyon and Geneva just like the locals, using the region’s excellent public transportation system.

You will continue to live with your homestay family during the ISP period.


During the Morocco excursion, you’ll have the opportunity to stay with a Moroccan host family. Other accommodations while on excursion include hotels and hostels.

Career Paths

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 with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Innovations analyst at Duke University’s Innovation and Technology Policy Lab, Durham, NC

  • Associate consultant with Bain and Company, Boston, MA

  • Research intern at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

  • Intern at the World Health Organization, Venice, Italy

  • Intern at MD Anderson Cancer Institute, Houston, TX

Faculty & Staff

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy

Alexandre Lambert, PhD bio link
Alexandre Lambert, PhD
Academic Director
Anne Golaz, MD, DrMed bio link
Anne Golaz, MD, DrMed
Elisabeth Meur, PhD bio link
Elisabeth Meur, PhD
Assistant Academic Advisor and Lecturer
Annette Boogaard bio link
Annette Boogaard
Homestay Coordinator
Françoise Flourens, MA bio link
Françoise Flourens, MA
Academic Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown

    A critical step in preparing for your study abroad program is planning how you will maintain your health and wellbeing. Please review the following information carefully and contact [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

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    SIT Study Abroad Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy

  • Student presents undergrad research on strategies for poverty and disabilities

    One of the hallmarks of many SIT Study Abroad programs is a real undergrad independent research project done in a foreign country. After students complete a course in research methods and ethics, they develop a research project, including determining where they will be staying, and what resources they will have available to them, present their plan, then embark on it.