USC Students Participate in Global Health Courses in Switzerland and Costa Rica

In collaboration with the MPH program, the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health provides students with educational opportunities abroad each year in Geneva, Switzerland and Costa Rica. The Geneva course brings students into the world of the United Nations and other institutions working on health, focusing on global health diplomacy, and the Costa Rica course gives students the opportunity to witness firsthand the impacts of climate change on people’s health. These courses allow students real-world experience in very different contexts in global health that build their knowledge and skills to be effective public health students and professionals.


“It is our goal as an Institute to offer diverse learning opportunities for students that allow them to develop as leaders and gain experience abroad to better understand the complexities of what it is like to work in global health. Students walk away from these experiences having met pioneers in the field of global health, with increased awareness of the work being done, and with memories that will last a lifetime.”

Sofia Gruskin, Director, USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Geneva, Switzerland

MPH students joined professors Sofia Gruskin and Laura Ferguson for two weeks for a course on “Global Health Governance and Diplomacy in Practice in Geneva” that shows in a practical hands-on way how health is organized and administered at the global level. Students were able to go inside the top global health institutions in the world for frank discussions with key leaders about their work and to witness member states’ discussions on global health priorities through their attendance at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). USC students were embedded in NCD Alliance delegations to the WHA allowing them to interact with global health leaders and also participate in conversations with non-governmental organizations and United Nations member states.

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“This was an excellent culmination of my Master of Public Health studies at the University of Southern California where I concentrated on Global Health and a rights-based approach to health.”

Dana Nordenstrom, 2019

“It was thrilling to meet people who led global efforts to address migration, programmers who have spread bed nets far and wide to prevent malaria, international human rights lawyers who fight for sexual and reproductive health, and many more figures that gave us new perspectives on the professional world of public health and international politics.”

Jarod Majeika, 2019

Read about the experience from students >>


Costa Rica

Professors Shubha Kumar and Mellissa Withers led USC students during a course on “Health & Sustainable Development in Costa Rica” to explore the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, migration, sustainable development, and human rights on health among populations in Costa Rica. The students stayed in three different locations within Costa Rica – San Vito, San Jose, and the Osa Peninsula – and visited local health clinics, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the National Children’s Hospital, Ministry of Health, the Panama border, and indigenous communities.

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“I’ve been able to see constructs that we’ve talked about in class first hand and get a better understanding of them. This trip has also challenged my notions of what constitutes global health and what health actually is and I am very grateful to have participated in it.”

Aaron Mallet, 2019

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