Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Health minor gives students more global view

If Emily Haak hadn’t declared a global health minor last year, she might never have studied abroad, conducted research on traditional and alternative medicine in Mexico City, or stayed with a Mexican family.

The Weinberg junior traveled to Mexico City for eight weeks this summer as a student in Northwestern’s Public Health in Mexico program, one of several study abroad programs that meets requirements toward her minor in global health.

“There were a lot of academics but there was plenty of time to explore the city and do a ton of traveling in between,” Haak said.

The global health minor is the first Northwestern academic program that requires an abroad experience, and its popularity is growing. Haak declared a global health minor, first approved by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in the spring of 2004. School officials added the material science major at the same time.

There are currently 73 undergraduates in the global health minor, but space in the global health classes is tight, said Devora Grynspan, political science professor and director of the Office of International Program Development.

Grynspan, who also oversees all of the abroad programs in the minor said global health is “perfect for NU” because it accommodates students from many different disciplines who are interested in public health.

“It’s something that can be defined very broadly – issues like domestic violence and gun violence are still under the umbrella of public health,” Grynspan said.

To complete the global health minor, students must pass three required courses, four elective courses, an independent research project and an international public health experience. Several of the elective courses and the independent research project can be completed abroad.

Study abroad programs that are part of the global health minor requirement include public health in South Africa, Mexico City, and China; and public health policies and institutions in France and the European Union in Paris.

Each program focuses on a different aspect of public health, applicable to the host city. The China and Mexico City programs are the only summer programs.

Unlike other NU study abroad programs, the public health programs do not have a language pre-requisite.

Many students don’t discover the global health minor until after their abroad experience because many of the abroad programs were in existence before the creation of the minor, Grynspan said.

Unlike Haak, who knew she wanted to be a global health minor before going to Mexico, Brent Swails didn’t decide on a global health minor until he had nearly completed his summer experience in South Africa.

“People think about public health there a lot more than we do here,” the Medill junior said. “It encompasses so much more than what you’d think, it’s just not for (pre-meds).”

Swails said he went to South Africa to gain exposure to the country, hoping to return for his Teaching Media journalism internship in the spring. His classes encouraged him to declare a global health minor.

Grynspan said she and Bill Leonard, the global health minor director, are working to add more programs in Brazil and Turkey.

“The global health minor was the perfect marriage between my health interests and my cultural interests,” said Haak, who is also an anthropology major and pre-medical student. “I looked at some of the classes the minor offered and it just seemed to really fit.”

Reach Amanda Palleschi at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Health minor gives students more global view