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Global Health Matters

Tool Objectives: 
  1. To increase awareness of global health issues.
  2. To develop a greater understanding of how health policy and policy advocacy impact health outcomes.
  3. To practice writing compelling and persuasive issue briefs and policy briefs.
Tool Description: 

When students in the U.S. hear the term “global health,” most think of health problems specific to developing countries. But global health matters to everyone, not just to those living in developing countries. This assignment has been designed to expand student awareness of global health issues and how health policy and policy advocacy impact health outcomes. (With some editing, the structure of this assignment could be adapted for issues other than global health.)

Tool Procedures: 
  1. Why does global health matter?  Facilitate a discussion on why global health matters. Ask students to consider what role the U.S. has in ensuring a healthier, more productive and stable world. For example, what role should the U.S. have in fighting HIV/AIDS in developing countries?  It may be useful to have students review the Global Health Council website prior to this class meeting.  Discuss one or two examples of specific health issues which are affecting the country or region where the class will be traveling.
  1. Assignment.  Discuss how health policy and advocacy impact global health outcomes. Explain the three-part assignment.  (Optional: Consider having students work in pairs or small groups.) 
  1. Issue Brief. Have students research a specific health issue or problem that is directly affecting the country or region where the class will be traveling. Students should write a 3-4 page issue brief to convince a policy-maker, agency or institution of the seriousness of the issue. If appropriate, limit the range of issues to course-related content.  
  1. Field Journal. While abroad, have students gather primary data on the specific health issue or problem each has identified. Offer suggestions on what type of primary data would be acceptable. Require that students have at least three entries in their field journals. Have students submit their field journals shortly after returning from abroad.
  1. Policy Brief. Upon return, each student should write a 3-4 page policy brief on the urgency of the problem that was presented in his/her issue brief. The policy brief should extend a rationale for adopting a recommended course of action. 
  1. Class Presentations.  If class time allows, assign students a 10-minute time slot to present their issue and policy recommendations to the class. Students should prepare as if they are truly delivering the policy brief to the policy-maker, agency or institution. 
  1. Why does global health matter? Return to the initial class discussion of why global health matters. Ask students how they can make an impact on global health issues. Introduce GlobeMed ( as an example of one way to get immediately involved. 
Tool Evaluation: 

This assignment can be worth up to 40% of the course grade: 15% for the issue brief, 10% for the field journal, and 15% for the policy brief/presentation. The assignment should be assessed on a student’s insight of the global health issue as it relates to the host country/region and the ability to offer/defend realistic policy recommendations that are grounded in the local context.

Tool Time Requirement: 

Two class sessions (pre-departure & post-study abroad)

Tool Author(s): 

A. Ogden & S. Knell, 2009.

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]: 

Site copyright 2012, University of Kentucky, Education Abroad.
Toolkit Authors: Duarte Morais, Ph.D., Anthony C. Ogden, Ph.D., & Christine Buzinde, Ph.D.
More information about the toolkit authors.

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