University News

New Global Health major prepares students for healthcare careers

March 23, 2021

Denison’s new Global Health major moves a giant step beyond simply studying the basics of health, though that is a significant portion of the knowledge these students will gain. Global Health also explores how societal issues impact healthcare in the US and across the world, including global responses to disease.

Global Health majors will learn to understand, evaluate, and critically assess health from a global perspective. They will gain research skills and real-world experience analyzing quantitative and qualitative data — knowledge that is critical to healthcare careers — and others. Columbus partnerships, such as a current partnership with Columbus Public Health, offer student internships to research the connections between public health, equity, and racism. Denison is among the first to offer a Global Health major. Only 8% of national liberal arts colleges offer a similar major.

“The Global Health major ensures students engage critically with the complex issues that surround public health,” says Denison University President Adam Weinberg. “By engaging across the liberal arts, students will gain knowledge in epidemiology, cultural competency, biostatistics, medical anthropology, and more. They will understand health as a holistic discipline. We are thrilled to be able to offer this academic opportunity to our students.”

The Global Health major is unique

At Denison, students can pursue a personalized course of study from multiple angles. Global Health majors may take courses in biology and psychology, history and anthropology. They may conduct research in topics as varied as anatomy, behavioral health, global communication, nutrition, pathophysiology, and sensation and perception.

“We believe the Global Health major provides students with an impressive array of flexibility,” says Associate Professor and Director of the Program Department Fareeda Griffith. “Students who are strong in the natural and social sciences can develop these skills. Those who are oriented toward the humanities will find their strengths as well. Both sciences and humanities contribute to the complex picture of global health.”

Unlike typical health programs, Global Health majors develop robust language and cultural capacities that enable them to engage with diverse perspectives on a subject matter that is highly sociocultural. Seniors will develop their personal research passions through a capstone study that incorporates their academic and extracurricular experiences.

Learning extends outside the classroom

Deepening the value of the major is an experiential learning requirement, where students apply ethical approaches in global health research and practice. These experiences will involve global health application, research, or both, with global health issues at the core. Global Health majors also develop a language and culture focus, the experiential learning experience may take place in another country or closer to home in nearby Columbus.

Some opportunities include:

  • A semester-long directed study working with a Columbus-based organization focusing on health services for refugee families.
  • A semester off-campus study in Costa Rica working with clean water health initiatives for indigenous people.
  • Summer internship based in Washington DC with government or non-governmental agencies focused on health policy.

Career potential in a burgeoning field

In addition to pursuing a post-graduate medical degree, graduates of the Global Health major are prepared to enter a wide variety of development and health service delivery organizations, including government and non-governmental organizations, consulting firms, health systems corporations, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies. These could potentially include:

  • Diagnosing and evaluating a community’s healthcare system to identify potential problems.
  • Developing policies and procedures that support community wellbeing.
  • Creating an efficient health care system within vulnerable communities in developing nations.
  • Researching and evaluating potential solutions and strategies to global health issues.

Throughout, they’ll be supported by a dedicated and talented faculty from multiple parts of the college, and engaged in a learning community of students that begins with everyone sharing a common core of introductory courses, where students will contribute their individual insights to benefit the whole.

The introduction of Global Health continues the university’s trend of evolving the liberal arts curriculum to meet the interest and needs of students and their families for engaging and relevant academic experiences that prepare students to launch into lives and careers. Global Health is the seventh new degree or academic program introduced at Denison in the last four years. The others include Global Commerce; Data Analytics; Health, Exercise and Sport Studies; Journalism; Politics and Public Affairs; and Financial Economics.

“Global Health is a terrific example of the flexibility and pragmatism of a liberal arts college. We are able to pull together knowledge from across sciences and humanities to create a course of study that is incredibly relevant,” says Weinberg. “Students are able to follow their passions and gain the skills they need to launch successfully into professions that are meaningful as well as financially rewarding.”

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