Examine global health and development policy in Geneva and investigate prominent issues dominating the international health and development arenas.
Learn about health and development policy in Geneva, the world capital for international organizations dedicated to public health, social justice, and sustainable development.
You will learn through onsite briefings and lectures with experts at international and nongovernmental organizations such as the University Hospital of Geneva, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières. You will receive a pass to the United Nations library.
You will receive a Swiss travel pass, allowing free use of public transportation everywhere in Switzerland. Most of the program’s lectures and French classes take place on a campus-like environment in Nyon, a charming city located on the shores of Lake Geneva, close to the cities of Geneva and Lausanne.
Travel to Morocco to visit health institutions and see contrasting public health systems in the capital, Rabat, and a rural area.
You’ll meet with Moroccan leaders of the National Ministry of Health, the National School of Public Health, and NGOs like the Pan-African Organization against AIDS, and you’ll participate in a communal health campaign in partnership with the National Ministry of Health and an international NGO. The excursion allows you to consider the complexity of healthcare systems and health and development policy from diverse vantage points. You will compare localized applications of health and development programs in a rural setting in Morocco with global health systems from a centralized policy and decision-making perspective in Geneva. During this excursion, you’ll stay with a Moroccan family in Rabat’s medina.
Gain new competencies in French.
The program accommodates beginner, intermediate, and advanced students of French. All courses emphasize speaking and comprehension, and the Morocco trip will expose you to the subtleties and diversity of French in a postcolonial cultural environment.
Visit Switzerland’s capital, Bern, to learn about international perspectives on food security, nutrition, and health at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation 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.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Links between health, the environment, and development
- Healthcare interventions in complex emergencies
- Vulnerable groups such as migrants
- Access to medicines
- Health security
- Non-communicable diseases
- Mental health
The program’s thematic seminars explore alternative models of public health systems in the context of developed, developing, and transitional societies. Looking at the role of public health within international development requires examination of diverse organizational strategies, programs, and funding of public health policy for major diseases, epidemics, and pandemics. A comparative approach to public health delivery allows a critique of national and international public health agendas and public health support systems. The program also emphasizes the crucial nexus between health, the environment, and development.
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.
- Perspectives on Global Health – syllabus
- (IPBH3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course explores the main components and current issues of public health in an international context, drawing on knowledge and point of views from multiple disciplines including epidemiology, and social and medical sciences. The course begins with a review of the main concepts in public health — including epidemiology, cost-effectiveness, relationships of public health, and development — and explores various health systems in an attempt to explain the unequal distribution of health and disease in the world. It then analyzes the rationale for improving global health and the relevant modes of intervention by exploring a number of current and emergent topics, including health in migrant populations; mental health; epidemics management; the spread of non-communicable diseases; and access to medicine in the event of natural disaster, complex emergencies, and armed conflicts. The course is interrelated with the program's other courses to ensure a dynamic and holistic approach to global health and development.
- Development Policy and Health – syllabus
- (IPBH3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course explores how public health and development are interrelated using, as a starting point, the evolution from standard theories to modern concepts of development. In particular, the course examines the major determinants of health issues in developing countries and the corresponding responses, as well as the impact of local and international policies on health in developing countries. The course reviews the role of microfinance in local development projects and the role of national and international agencies, as well as nongovernmental agencies, in development planning and project implementation. The course also studies critical aspects of development, such as access to clean water, sanitation, and healthy nutrition.
- Beginning French I – syllabus
- (FREN1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Beginning French II – syllabus
- (FREN1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Intermediate French I – syllabus
- (FREN2003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Intermediate French II – syllabus
- (FREN2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Advanced French I – syllabus
- (FREN3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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 – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- The Research Methods and Ethics seminar provides the theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools for conducting field research in Switzerland and Morocco. The course also includes several field studies, which gives students the chance to apply concepts learned in class. The course helps students to learn about and adapt to different cultures and environments. Emphasis is placed on grappling with cultural differences, as well as on identifying cultural similarities. The course focuses on strengthening interactive research skills and methods, such as exploring cultural and professional environments; conducting background research; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; applying field study ethics; gathering and organizing data; and maintaining a fieldwork journal. The ethical implications and consequences of observations, interviews, and fieldwork journal assignments are examined and discussed throughout. The concepts and skills developed in the seminar underlie and reinforce all other program requirements and link directly to the Independent Study Project.
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted in Geneva or another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: development and health in complex emergencies; the health 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; the paradox of malnutrition; public health and food security in least developed countries.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Excursions give you the opportunity to observe and experience program themes in a field-study context.
The program spends eight days in Morocco, primarily in the capital Rabat, with a short excursion to a rural setting. During this period, you’ll study the Moroccan health system, pan-African health and development challenges, and Moroccan culture and politics.
The excursion allows you to compare and contrast public health systems in Morocco and in Switzerland, two very different political, cultural, and development contexts. You will consider the collaboration between nongovernmental organizations, international governmental organizations, and Moroccan health authorities. Additionally, you will examine the realities of development, the effects of international collaboration, and the impact of development policies on public health in a rural setting.
The excursion also gives you a chance to experience Morocco’s cuisine, architecture, and Francophone culture.
You will attend briefings by experts with the Federal Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation during a one-day excursion to Bern. You will typically have a chance to visit the Old City of Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you will be exposed to the Swiss German identity.
Program in a minute-ish
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Alexandre Lambert, PhD, Academic Director
Alexandre is Swiss and holds a PhD in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. He has been an academic director and lecturer with SIT in Geneva since 2007. He has been lead researcher on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at the Graduate Institute, project officer at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, and a civil servant at the Swiss Federal Department of Defense. He belongs to nonprofit civil society organizations including the Swiss Foreign Policy Association, the European Consortium of Political Research, and European Research Group on Armed Forces and Society. He is a fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society in Chicago and frequently provides policy advice to the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, often regarding operations in the Western Balkans, South Caucasus, and Central Asia. Alexandre has published in international politics and history, international security, and security sector governance.
Anne Golaz, Academic Advisor, MD, DrMed
Anne holds an MD and a doctorate in medicine (DrMed) from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and a master of public health from the University of Washington. She completed the Epidemic Intelligence Service program at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta and the CDC Preventive Medicine Residency program at the Indian Health Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a visiting epidemiologist for the CDC and a regional immunization advisor seconded to the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia in Kathmandu, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office in Cairo, and the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office in New Delhi.
Anne teaches public health in humanitarian emergencies at the University of Geneva’s Center for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action and at the Global Studies Institute. Before joining the University in 2012, she was a UNICEF senior health advisor for humanitarian emergencies. She has contributed to many scientific publications.
Elisabeth Meur, PhD, Assistant Academic Advisor
Elisabeth has a PhD in international relations from the University of Namur, where she examined the influence of resentment in the Lebanese-Syrian securitization, and a master’s degree in contemporary Arab and Muslim worlds from the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. She studied political psychology at the University of Stanford and emotions in international relations at the University of Washington. Her research stands at the crossroads of security studies and political psychology and mainly focuses on the role of social emotions in conflict and post conflict. She is particularly interested in the influence of complex social emotions following traumatic events on security and foreign policy. She has conducted empirical research in Lebanon and Syria since 2006 and has been research project coordinator and lecturer at the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action. She has taught research methods and research design and has experience in supervising academic dissertations.
Françoise Flourens, Academic Coordinator
Françoise joined the program in 2015. She holds a master’s in community planning and landscape architecture from the University of Rhode Island, a master’s in communication from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, and a bachelor’s in international relations/political science from the University of Sorbonne. She has more than ten years’ experience in change and project management for companies including IBM and Aerospatiale. In the US, she worked for the Department of Environmental Management and the Conservation Law Foundation. Previously, she worked for the French cultural agency in Mexico City. She has been involved in many community projects and is interested in medicinal plants and the ecology of places and landscapes.
Christina Cornes, MA, Homestay Coordinator
Christina has worked as a homestay coordinator in Switzerland since 2008, first with The Experiment in International Living and then with SIT. She is responsible for recruiting and monitoring homestay families, placing students in their homestays, and managing students’ permits, health issues, and train passes. Christina holds a master’s degree in German and English literature from the University in Lausanne. Prior to joining SIT, she worked for the tropical forest officer at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, lived and worked in Sydney for two years, and worked for the financial director at the World Wildlife Fund in Switzerland. Christina has three grownup children and lives with her family in the county of Vaud.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Astrid Stuckelberger, PhD
Astrid is recognized internationally for her work in public health. She is a senior lecturer/researcher at the University of Geneva’s Public Health Medical School and works on an e-learning program for health ministries in collaboration with the World Health Organization, University of Pretoria, Georgetown University, and University of Geneva. She holds a master’s degree focused on cross-cultural psychology, media, and anthropology from the University of Geneva and an advanced master’s degree in cross-cultural health psychology. Her PhD was on the determinants and mechanisms of a population health assessment with a gender perspective.
Astrid has advised the UN, European Commission, and Swiss government on public health, and was deputy director of the Geneva State Health Department’s National Research Programme on Ageing. She received awards from the UN Secretary-General in 1999 and in 2009 was recognized as one of the 100 leading personalities in Switzerland. She conducted a joint project developing a training manual on international research ethics with WHO and Harvard University. She is chair of the UN-affiliated NGO committee on ageing and convened the working group on education development at the UN. She is on the board of the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues. She has published widely.
Claire Sommerville, PhD
Claire is a medical anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. She has researched non-communicable diseases, social determinants of health, ageing, decision-making and m-health technologies, ethics, nested-RCT studies, health policy, governance, and security and is researching neglected tropical diseases and non-communicable diseases in Peru, Nepal, and Mozambique. She is executive director of the Gender Centre and research associate in the Global Health Centre at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies where she also teaches applied research and executive education. Previously, she taught the qualitative research methods and coordinated research on gender, land, and the right to food; consulted for the UN; and was senior social scientist developing and testing health technology prototypes at Intel Digital Health’s Technology Research of Independent Living Centre at Trinity College Dublin. Her most recent publications appear in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, The European Journal of Public Health, and Aging and the Digital Life Course.
Nicolas Bertholet, MD, DrMed
Nicolas has an MS in epidemiology from Boston University School of Public Health, an MD from Lausanne Medical School, and a DrMed from Lausanne University. He trained in preventive medicine, public health, and psychiatry and psychotherapy (board certified by the Swiss Medical Association). He completed a research fellowship at the Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine and was Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University’s Center for Mental Health Research. He is associate physician at Lausanne University Hospital’s Alcohol Treatment Center and privatdozent and senior lecturer at Lausanne University’s Faculty of Biology and Medicine. He is associate editor for the US National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education program. In 2014, he was awarded the New Investigator Award by the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. He researches screening and intervention for unhealthy substance use and has developed web- and smartphone-based screening and interventions for unhealthy alcohol use. He is involved in numerous collaborations with researchers from the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Lida Lhotska, PhD
Lida holds a BSc in biology and PhD in anthropology. Before joining UNICEF New York in 1994, she worked at Prague’s National Institute for Public Health while teaching infant feeding and clinical anthropology at a medical school. In the 1990s, she co-founded the first national group of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in Central and Eastern Europe. She led the infant feeding and care team at UNICEF headquarters and supported country programs, coordinating with government counterparts, NGOs, and donors, as a senior advisor. In 2001, she joined the IBFAN-GIFA team in Geneva where she was responsible for program coordination, liaison with international organizations and NGOs, policy analysis, and guidance and technical support on infant feeding issues. She also coordinated the network in Europe. She now serves on the IBFAN's Global Advisory Task Force and represents IBFAN in collaborations with WHO, UNICEF, and international NGOs. Since the late 1990s, Lida has been concerned about the increase of conflicts of interest in the global health and nutrition arena and has been raising awareness of their harmful impacts.
Ariel Eytan, MD, PhD
Ariel holds an MD and a doctorate in medicine from the University of Geneva. He is trained as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist specialized in consultation-liaison and forensic psychiatry. His main interests are in the cross-cultural aspects of mental disorders, the interface between mental and physical health, international psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Ariel has worked as a research assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on the cultural dimension of psychiatric classifications. He is currently senior lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and assistant professor in the forensic department of the Geneva University Hospitals. He also chairs the Swiss Federal Commission for the treatment of persons interned for life. Ariel researched trauma, depression, and mental health in post-conflict settings such as Kosovo and Rwanda and worked on the screening and diagnosis of mental disorders among asylum seekers and refugees in Switzerland. He teaches cross-cultural psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and ethics to medical students and residents in psychiatry. He is the author of approximately 65 papers published in peer-reviewed journals.
Elisabeth Meur, PhD
Elisabeth holds a master’s degree in contemporary Arab and Muslim worlds from the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. She studied political psychology at Stanford University and emotions in international relations at the University of Washington. In 2014, she completed her PhD in international relations (Academy of Louvain, University of Namur and Tocqueville Chair in Security Policies), examining the influence of resentment in the Lebanese-Syrian securitization. Her research stands at the intersection of security studies and political psychology and mainly focuses on the role of social emotions in conflict and post-conflict societies, particularly the influence of complex social emotions on security and foreign policy following traumatic events. She has conducted empirical research in Lebanon and Syria since 2006. She has been research project coordinator and lecturer at the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action and has taught research methods and research design and supervised academic dissertations.
Olivier Brenninkmeijer, PhD
Olivier holds a PhD and a graduate diploma from the University of Geneva’s Graduate Institute and two degrees from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Olivier applies his more than twenty years’ experience in private industry, international organizations, and universities to developing quality academic programs in teaching, research, student counseling, and intercultural university partnerships. He was academic officer with CAPA Centres for Academic Programs Abroad and previously developed undergraduate and graduate programs and fellowships. Olivier has published on multilateral conflict prevention, international cooperation for security, and public-private partnerships in industry. He researched cross-sector management, international economic development, and humanitarian assistance.
Judith Richter, PhD
Judith, associate senior research fellow at Zurich University, holds an MA in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and a PhD in sociology from Amsterdam University. She studied pharmacy in Geneva and participated in the graduate program at Tübingen Institute of Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities. She has been a pharmacist with a consumer protection group in Bangkok; a lecturer on community pharmacy at Khon Kaen University in Thailand; and a researcher/consultant on safeguarding public interests in global health policies for UN agencies, governments, and civil organizations. She has written monographs, articles, papers, and book chapters and has presented and lectured in 22 countries at venues including the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Oxford University, Harvard School of Public Health, the Hastings Center, and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Vicente Paolo Yu, PhD
Vicente is the deputy executive director of the South Centre. His substantive policy work includes overseeing policy research and analysis and technical and legal advice to developing country delegations on global political, economic, social, and environmental issues, including the right to development, international trade policy, international environmental law, development economics, and international climate change policy. He obtained his political science (with honors) and law degrees from the University of the Philippines and his master of laws degree (with honors), specializing in international trade law and international environmental law, from Georgetown University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He worked for Friends of the Earth International and was staff attorney and head of research and policy development at the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center in the Philippines. He has published papers and articles on trade and environment, energy policy, mining policy, sustainable development, environmental policy, climate change policy, and indigenous peoples' rights.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will spend 14 weeks living with a Swiss or international family outside of Nyon. During the homestay, you may enjoy outings with your host families like skiing, tennis, swimming, volleyball, and/or hiking. Cultural offerings include music festivals, art exhibitions, museums, and theaters.
Families are usually middle class and reflect the cultural diversity of Switzerland; host families may speak more than one language (often German, English, and/or Italian) in addition to French. Most of the host communities lie northeast of Geneva, about 30 minutes by train from the SIT center in Nyon (which is 20 minutes by train to central Geneva). Trains from Nyon to Geneva run every 15 minutes.
You will continue to live with your homestay family during the ISP period.
During the Morocco excursion, you will stay for four days with a host family (two students per family) in the historic city center of Rabat, and for three days in a rural area of northern Morocco.
One of the people who I interviewed for my Independent Study Project (ISP) works at the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus, where I now intern.
One of the people who I interviewed for my Independent Study Project (ISP) works at the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus, where I now intern. After working on my ISP, I wanted to pursue research on cancer stem cells and asked my interviewee about internship opportunities at CU. My ISP work helped me get my foot in the door for an internship that has inspired me to pursue a career in cancer research.
Alum presents her research at the 2016 Human Development Conference
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Geneva or in another approved location appropriate to the project.
You will work with a faculty member or professional with expertise in your area of interest. These experts include policy advisors, humanitarian and development practitioners, and medical professionals. Senior staff of NGOs and governmental agency advisors may work with you on design, implementation, and evaluation of your project.
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
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
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and 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.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Development policy
- Swiss development and cooperation
- International organizations, institutions, and enterprises
- Complex humanitarian emergencies and health
- Human rights and vulnerable groups
- Environment and health
- Research Methods and Ethics seminar and Human Subjects Review
- Intensive language instruction in French
- All educational excursions to locations such as Bern and Morocco, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
- Transportation (a Swiss pass to all public transportation throughout Switzerland)
Room & Board: $6,860
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, in the program base (Nyon/Geneva), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
- Two homestays: 14 weeks with a Swiss or international family in rural villages and other communities near Nyon and four days in Rabat and three days in a rural area during the excursion in Morocco.
- 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:
Airfare to Program Site
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: $465
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.
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.
In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.