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In this program, global health is considered to be much more and very different from international public health. It emphasizes that major health challenges stem from many factors well beyond disease itself – factors that are ecological, cultural, institutional, historical, evolutionary, social and technological. Any effective, sustainable solutions to our most pressing global health challenges will need to take all of these factors into account, including the complex ways in which they relate to each other.
In this manner, this degree understands health as not simply a product of disease, but rather emerging in the contexts of our complex and interrelated ecology, politics, history, culture, social institutions and evolutionary biology. It also places primacy on how to address the broader (structural, cultural) bases of ill-health in complicated, ever-changing health challenges in low-resource community settings and a globalizing world. To do this, the degree combines both social and life science theory with on-the-ground research and its application. There is a strong emphasis on collaborative action as key to identifying and addressing global health problems in a sustainable and meaningful way.
Students accepted into the program are tied to ongoing interdisciplinary global health projects that address complicated, multifaceted health challenges that defy easy fixes (such as reemerging infectious diseases, obesity or climate-change-related disease). Students develop an applied project to contribute to the team goals. By applying a collaborative, problem-solving format, the M.A. in global health is intended to provide those planning to enter health or related (e.g., environmental, social) fields with the interdisciplinary orientation, team-skills and social and cultural acuity that the Pew Health Professional Consortium inter alia has identified as critical but lacking in current health workforce training. The degree also emphasizes experiential learning as a way to gain mastery and requires participation in a global internship program based in one of the international partnering communities.
The School of Human Evolution and Social Change offers a conjoint B.A./M.A. in global health program.