The Emergence of Undergraduate Majors in Global Health: Systematic Review of Programs and Recommendations for Future Directions

Paul K. Drain Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

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Charles Mock Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

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David Toole Duke Global Health Institute, Durham, North Carolina.

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Anne Rosenwald Department of Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia.

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Megan Jehn School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

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Thomas Csordas Department of Anthropology, University of California–San Diego, San Diego, California.

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Laura Ferguson Institute for Global Health, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

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Caryl Waggett Global Health Studies, Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania.

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Chinekwu Obidoa Department of International and Global Studies, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.

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Judith N. Wasserheit Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

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Global health education has been expanding rapidly and several universities have created an undergraduate major degree (bachelor's degree) in global heath or global health studies. Because there are currently no national guidelines for undergraduate degrees in global health, each of these programs was developed along individual lines. To guide the development of future global health majors, we conducted a systematic review of undergraduate majors in global health. We identified eight programs and invited program directors or representatives to a symposium at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health 2016 conference to review their existing undergraduate major in global health and to discuss lessons learned and recommendations for other colleges and universities seeking to develop undergraduate degrees in global health. We noted significant diversity among the existing programs in terms of required courses, international field experiences, and thesis research projects. In this review, we describe these global health programs, their student characteristics, as well as the key educational competencies, program requirements, and core global health courses. Based on program reviews and discussions, we identify seven recommendations for the development and expansion of an undergraduate major in global health and discuss issues that have arisen in the curricular development of these programs that warrant further exploration. As the field of global health education continues to expand, following these students after graduation will be essential to ensure that the degree programs in global health both meet student needs and launch students on viable career pathways.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Paul K. Drain, University of Washington, 325 Ninth Avenue, UW Box 359927, Seattle, WA 98104-2420. E-mail: pkdrain@uw.edu

Authors' addresses: Paul K. Drain and Judith N. Wasserheit, Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, E-mails: pkdrain@uw.edu and jwasserh@uw.edu. Charles Mock, Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, E-mail: cmock@uw.edu. David Toole, Duke Global Health Institute, Durham, NC, E-mail: david.toole@duke.edu. Anne Rosenwald, Department of Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, E-mail: anne.rosenwald@georgetown.edu. Megan Jehn, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, E-mail: megan.jehn@asu.edu. Thomas Csordas, Department of Anthropology, University of California–San Diego, San Diego, CA, E-mail: tcsordas@ucsd.edu. Laura Ferguson, Institute for Global Health, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, E-mail: laura.ferguson@med.usc.edu. Caryl Waggett, Global Health Studies, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, E-mail: cwaggett@allegheny.edu. Chinekwu Obidoa, Department of International and Global Studies, Mercer University, Macon, GA, E-mail: obidoa_c@mercer.edu.

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