Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action

Witness the massive humanitarian response to the regional refugee crisis, with a focus on refugee health. Understand the impact of refugees in Europe during an excursion to Switzerland.

At a Glance





Language of Study


Courses taught in



Feb 5 – May 20

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Global Health & Well-being

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Why study humanitarian action in Jordan?

Get a firsthand look at humanitarian emergency action in Jordan and Switzerland, two countries critical to the response to the current refugee crisis. This is a unique opportunity to view the policies and priorities of UN agencies, international relief organizations, and Jordan’s government. In Amman, you’ll learn about the political and cultural factors behind the influx of refugees to Jordan, which continues to receive waves of refugees displaced by regional conflicts. You’ll also travel to Geneva to learn from experts at health and humanitarian agencies like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, World Health Organization, and International Red Cross.


  • Visit Palestinian and Syrian refugee host communities, healthcare facilities and NGOs.
  • Understand the political and economic factors behind the influx of refugees to Jordan.
  • Travel to Geneva to learn from health and humanitarian policy experts.
  • Contrast humanitarian responses to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Switzerland.




Rural Jordan

You will visit health centers and associations providing health services to refugees in local host communities. You’ll experience everyday life in rural areas of Jordan and study alternative medical treatments. During this excursion you’ll also visit the following national treasures:


At this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll take in the splendors of the ancient city of Petra, a world-famous archeological wonder featured in Indiana Jones “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Wadi Rum

Heading further south, you’ll behold the vast desert of Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon), the shooting location for much of “Lawrence of Arabia” and many other films. You’ll enjoy an afternoon of desert trekking around the vast and awe-inspiring sandstone mountains.

Northern Heights

More than 80 percent of Syrian refugees are located in northern Jordan. During this excursion, you will be able to assess the impact of refugees on host communities and visit key sites:

Um Qai

Atop a windswept mountain with views of the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee, you’ll visit the ruins of ancient Jadara.


You’ll walk among the extraordinary ruins of the best preserved Roman city outside of Italy.


Spend the night at a cozy lodge in the forest of Ajloun surrounded by oak, pine, pistachios, and wild strawberries after visiting Qalaat Errabadh, the medieval castle built by Muslims to protect the area from invading Crusaders.


You’ll spend most of your stay in the capital, Geneva. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with experts about the international refugee system and learn about the challenges facing health relief agencies providing refugee protection and assistance. You’ll visit the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Explore Old Geneva with its quaint chateaus and fine arts museums. Enjoy a cruise along the shores of Lake Geneva and experience the city’s rich history, architecture, and cuisine. You’ll have time to explore nearby Lausanne, one of Switzerland’s prettiest cities, with medieval shop-lined streets and an ornate 12th century Gothic cathedral.

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:

  • Critique the humanitarian system including humanitarian principles, standards, and architecture from an ethical and logistical lens.
  • Evaluate the integration and identity challenges of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Switzerland.
  • Articulate the impact of displacement on the economic and social wellbeing of refugees and host communities.
  • Evaluate the healthcare response available to refugees in Jordan in relation to broadly accepted professional standards.
  • Examine ethical, gender-sensitive, resilience-building, and community-based humanitarian interventions.
  • Apply field methods for needs assessment and evidence-based interventions.
  • Synthesize the learning acquired on the program in an Independent Study Project or internship experience paper.

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

  • Protection and status of refugees and displaced populations in the Middle East and North Africa
  • The impact of Syrian refugees on Jordan's economy, social sectors, and socio-political stability
  • The role of UN and international relief agencies in refugee assistance and humanitarian action
  • Principles and legal frameworks governing humanitarian action

Refugees and Displaced Populations in the Context of Jordan

Refugees and Displaced Populations in the Context of Jordan – syllabus
(MDES3000 / 3 credits)

This seminar introduces students to the principles, guidelines, and laws related to refugee status and treatment as well as the legal responsibility of states to guarantee refugees’ right to assistance and protection. The seminar also explores the major challenges refugees face, such as identity crises, social integration, and cultural-contextual change, as well as the social, economic, and political impact of the successive waves of refugees on Jordan.

Refugee Health and Humanitarian Action

Refugee Health and Humanitarian Action – syllabus
(MDES3500 / 3 credits)

This seminar examines firsthand the humanitarian relief action taking place in Jordan to provide assistance to Syrian refugees, with special emphasis on the health sector. The seminar addresses the principles, rights, and duties governing humanitarian action and looks into the challenges of providing assistance to refugees. The health status and risk factors of refugees and the health services available to them will be addressed, with special emphasis on vulnerable groups including women, children, and people with disabilities.


Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits)


Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits)

The language course is offered at different levels: Choose to take either two thematic seminar and a 3-credit Arabic language course OR the thematic seminar course, Refugees and Displaced Populations in the Context of Jordan, and a six-credit Arabic language course. The language course emphasizes speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic (fusha) through classroom and field instruction. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. A component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is also part of the course.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

This seminar provides students with the necessary conceptual and methodological tools to undertake field study in Jordan. Students also learn the ethical and cultural considerations and procedures for conducting research with vulnerable populations such as refugees and displaced populations. The overall aim is to help students hone their experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project (ISP), or an Internship Paper, which is largely based on the data gathered from primary sources, or an internship at a local organization.

Independent Study Project or Internship

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)
The Independent Study Project is 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; the effect of daily stressors on Syrian refugee women; consequences of displacement on increased risks of domestic violence and gender-based violence; malnutrition in refugee children; refugee women’s empowerment and protection.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • The effect of refugees on the health system in Jordan
  • Impact of water shortage on the health of refugees
  • Refugees’ resilience and integration
  • Refugees’ health and human rights

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


Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN 3000 / 4 credits)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a research organization, business, UN agency, intergovernmental organization, international development agency and national and local NGOs providing humanitarian assistance and development aid to refugee and local communities. The aim of an internship is to enable students to gain valuable internship experience and enhance their skills in an international internship environment.

Sample internships include:

  • Providing relief to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians with the International Rescue Committee
  • Working with farmers, women, and refugees living in poverty with Care International
  • Assisting epidemiologists with the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network
  • Promoting health awareness with the Jordan Health Aid Society
  • Supporting the efforts of Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development-Legal Aid to raise legal awareness among vulnerable populations, fight injustice, and promote equality
  • Assisting the International Committee of the Red Cross’s humanitarian responses to Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities
  • Helping Palestinian refugees get access to healthcare with the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees



You’ll live with a homestay family in Amman for 12 weeks. The homestay is a unique opportunity to become a member of a local family, share meals with them and take part in special occasions. Jordan is known for its warm hospitality. You will learn about traditions, local perspectives on issues, and Arab culture while experiencing the country through your homestay family’s eyes.

Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of a typical Arab home. Homestay families may include first- or second-generation Palestinians who are major contributors to Jordan’s social and cultural life. The homestay experience gives you an opportunity to further enhance your spoken Arabic.

Other Accommodations

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

Faculty & Staff

Jordan: Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action

Bayan Abdulhaq, PhD
Academic Director
Farah Hasasneh
Language Coordinator and Instructor
Amjad Abu Aisheh, MS
Arabic Instructor
Ghadeer AL-Khaddam, MA
Language Instructor
Razan Amirah
Program Assistant

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 more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown
  • Welcome to SIT Jordan!

    Live with a Jordanian family, master Arabic, and explore awe-inspiring Petra on SIT Study Abroad’s undergraduate programs in Jordan.

  • SIT stands #WithRefugees

    SIT Study Abroad joins UNHCR’s call to support the displaced.

    Learn More