Scholarly Concentration: Global Health


Brian Blackburn, MD

Jason Andrews, MD

Objectives and Goals

Global Health is an application area in the Scholarly Concentration program. The goals of our program are to expose students to the primary issues in the field of of Global Health, and give them the tools to begin addressing these through hands-on field research. Some specific goals include:

  1. Giving students an understanding of the spectrum of challenges—from political, to sociological, to biomedical—that limit provision of health care to the world’s poorest people. 
  2. Provide students with insights into problem-solving for complex international health issues.
  3. Foster mentored hands-on experience in the field that applies knowledge attained in this application to real world problems of the world’s poorest people.


Students who pursue Global Health in addition to their 6 units of foundation coursework are required to complete 6 units of Global Health coursework and are required to complete a core course requirement. This requirement will most commonly be fulfilled by any one of the following eight core courses; the remainder may be drawn from other Global Health-related courses (see Course Work page):

EDUC 291X: Introduction to Survey Research (EDUC 191X)
Planning tasks, including problem formulation, study design, questionnaire and interview design, pretesting, sampling, interviewer training, and field management. Epistemological and ethical perspectives. Issues of design, refinement, and ethics in research that crosses boundaries of nationality, class, gender, language, and ethnicity.
Units: 3-4

HRP 225. Design and Conduct of Clinical and Epidemiologic Studies.
Intermediate-level. The skills to design, carry out, and interpret epidemiologic studies, particularly of chronic diseases. Topics: epidemiologic concepts, sources of data, cohort studies, case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, sampling, estimating sample size, questionnaire design, and the effects of measurement error. Prerequisite: A basic/introductory course in statistics or consent of instructor.
Units: 3-4

HRP 241: Measuring Global Health (HUMBIO 129M, MED 231)
Open to MD, graduate, and undergraduate students. Assessing the global burden of disease, its distribution among and within countries, its causes, and appropriate interventions requires rigorous quantitative approaches. This course develops skills in these areas by critically examining questions like: How do we know who is sick and where? How are risk factors incorporated into our projections of future disease trends? How do we combine mortality and morbidity in a meaningful way? What works for improving health efficiently? Workshops build familiarity with relevant data and their analysis. Prerequisite: coursework in statistics, biostatistics, quantitative epidemiology, econometrics, or equivalent.
Units: 4

HUMBIO 129S. Global Public Health.
The class is an introduction to the fields of international public health and global medicine. It focuses on resource poor areas of the world and explores major global health problems and their relation to policy, economic development and human rights. The course is intended for students interested in global health, development studies, or international relations, and provides opportunities for in-depth discussion and interaction with experts in the field.
Units 4

MED 108Q: Human Rights and Health
Preference to sophomores. History of human-rights law. International conventions and treaties on human rights as background for social and political changes that could improve the health of groups and individuals. Topics such as: regional conflict and health, the health status of refugees and internally displaced persons; child labor; trafficking in women and children; HIV/AIDS; torture; poverty, the environment and health; access to clean water; domestic violence and sexual assault; and international availability of drugs. Possible optional opportunities to observe at community sites where human rights and health are issues. Guest speakers from national and international NGOs including Doctors Without Borders; McMaster University Institute for Peace Studies; UC Berkeley Human Rights Center; Kiva. PowerPoint presentation on topic of choice required.
Units: 3

MS&E 185: Global Work
Issues, challenges, and opportunities facing workers, teams, and organizations working across national boundaries. Topics include geographic distance, time zones, language and cultural differences, technologies to support distant collaboration, team dynamics, and corporate strategy. Limited enrollment. Admission by application.
Units: 4

PEDS 223: Human Rights and Global Health
Open to medical students, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates. Examines the newly emerging field of human rights and global health, beginning with the essential background into the field of human rights, and the recent emergence of health as a human right. Emphasis is on the pioneering work of Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health and the challenge he and his organization have posed to the conventional wisdom about approaches to combating poor health and disease worldwide. Topics include the "big three" infectious diseases -- tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS -- as well as emerging infectious diseases, clean water and sanitation, and malnutrition and famine.
Units: 3

SURG 250: Global Humanitarian Medicine (SURG 150)
Open to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. Focus is on understanding the theory behind medical humanitarianism, the growing role of surgery in international health, and the clinical skills necessary for students to partake in global medical service. Internship opportunities are available for interested students. Guest speakers include world-renowned physicians and public health workers.
Units: 2-3

All students in the Application must complete at least one quarter of international research; four quarters are preferred.

Participation in Application break-outs, where students will present their ideas for projects, faculty will be available to discuss opportunities, and students completing projects will present their work, its pros and cons, and future opportunities in their research site.

Scholarly Concentrations & the MD Program

The Scholarly Concentration (SC) program is a required, structured program of study in the Medical Student Curriculum that promotes in-depth learning and scholarship. The SC's provide medical students with faculty-mentored scholarly experiences in areas of individual interest combined with structured coursework to support this scholarship.