Over the past few months Jon Shaffer, the Community Engagement Coordinator at PIH, and I began to toss around questions concerning the short history and current state of global health education. As a student at Middlebury College up in Vermont, I have spent most of that time engrossed (buried) in macromolecules and early American literature. However, amid frequent email exchanges, phone calls, and a bit of preliminary research, Jon and I have started to focus these ideas, and a foundation for a sort of meta-analysis of global health education has emerged.
Jon invited me to PIH’s main offices to help further develop these thoughts and I elected to forsake Middlebury’s “J-term,” and transplant myself to Cambridge for the month, exchanging one frigid winter landscape for another. As I begin to hang out around the PIH office in Boston, reading up on “theoretical frameworks in global health education,” and “the dramatic expansion of university engagement in global health,” we uncovered a small niche of literature addressing the surge in the study of global health education, and sparingly few databases cataloging global health programs at academic institutions in the US. While organizations such as the Consortium for Global Health (CUGH) have begun to compile this type of data, it seems that the most of this work largely lacks an in-depth academic analysis. Drawing on some sociology of higher education theory, perspectives from leading figures in the field, and both qualitative and quantitative data surrounding the growth of global health education, Jon and I seek to better understand how and why global health has ascended as a field of academic study since the late 90s, identify the factors that have fueled this rise, and perhaps look the future trajectory of the blossoming discipline.
By Tyler Boyd
Tyler is a biochemistry and American studies double major at Middlebury College in Vermont. Hailing from outside Chicago, he enjoys graphic design and is interested in travel and global health. He is excited to be working on this project this month and into the future.