Global Health Studies is the newest addition to Mercer’s academic curriculum. Founded in 2010, this is only the second semester that Global Health has been available to Mercer students.
Because this is the first year of the program there are fewer than five declared Global Health majors, but the small size does not deter the faculty or students.
Global Health Chair Mary Kot said, “There are multiple applications for people interested in the program for next school year, but there is also a challenge because many high school students do not know what Global Health is and might not know they are interested until they take an introductory course.”
As for upperclassmen, the program and its advisers will work with students interested in Global Health to make it possible to join the program.
“For several years there was a discussion about adding a minor or a major in Global Health. Last year we asked the curriculum committee about adding a separate degree for undergraduates in Global Health,” Kot said.
The concentration addresses the health of global populations and communities through instruction, service and community-based research. The concentration introduces students to research methods as applied to public health while defining the role of health care issues and policy as they relate to international relations. It draws on fields such as international affairs, law and the natural and social sciences.
The major also requires that students participate in a Mercer on Mission trip.
By giving students the methods and skills needed to understand issues dealing with global health, the concentration opens students up to numerous career opportunities.
“The possibilities are endless. You can work in the field, enter organizations based in cities and work with those organizations on projects to help different countries,” said Monika Sawhney, professor of GH studies. Currently, Sawhney is the only professor teaching in the concentration.
“They will have the knowledge to work with United Nations or any program under the UN umbrella. They can find jobs with the CDC, with international health divisions, and they can use their experience to work globally through a program like the Peace Corps or the Clinton Global Initiative,” Sawhney said.
Kot said, “We planned out the curriculum so that students could leave after graduating and find a job. They can find work in hospitals, the World Health Organization or other related places. They can also go on to graduate school.”
Global Health majors are prepared for graduate education in law, business, engineering and public health.
While students in the GH concentration can go the medical school, Kot explained that the program is not intended for pre-med students but as an alternative to medical school.
“It is a degree for students who do not or cannot go to medical school, but still want a health- related degree so they can still help a lot of people,” Kot said.
“Medicine is more helping people on an individual level, while Global Health seeks to help people on the population level. You work more in a group; for example, you can spend time getting a population vaccinated or starting a program for clean water,” Kot said.
“In Global Health you can see the impact of what you are doing. You can see how your work translates into saving human lives,” Sawhney said.