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Research Discusses Learning About Individuals’ Connections to Global Health

“Global Citizenship through Global Health,” by Lee Stoner, Michael A. Tarrant, Lane Perry, Mikell Gleason, Daniel Wadsworth, and Rachel Page, was published in the Spring 2019 issue of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. The authors describe and discuss a collaborative study abroad program (between one university each in the USA and New Zealand) that has run three times with a total of 59 students. 

The program’s overall goal has been increasing higher education’s role in improving global health through developing students’ global citizenship. This has been based on evidence and arguments that a person’s health does not impact only themselves, but “lifestyle behaviors have deep and wide consequences extending to the community, national, and global contexts.” The article discusses this relationship between global health and global citizenship, and evidence that even short-term study abroad can advance global citizenship, in addition to the course itself.

The highlighted personal health issue is non-communicative diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The program has been designed and run by the University of Georgia’s Discover Abroad and Massey University’s College of Health. The 24-day course included four location-dependent subthemes/modules. They were: 1) “Urbanization and Public Health” in Sydney; 2) the “importance of natural resources to health and well-being” in Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef; 3) “climate change, biodiversity and indigenous health” in the Daintree Rainforest; and “improving indigenous health” in Tyrconnell (Outback) and Atheron Tablelands (Outbush). Each module was delivered through a “short narrative/introduction, a series of readings, field activities, service learning, seminars, and a collection of classroom lectures.” Students participated in “essays, group debates, science projects, and critical reflection…iterative theme essay”; a two-hour, open-book final exam; and a three-minute critical reflection video, which the authors argue indicates course impacts better than reflective journals. Faculty also conducted other quantitative and qualitative assessment through surveys. Student learning (n=41) was statistically significant on three of six dimensions of the Global Perspectives Inventory, while the authors also reported the sample was insufficient to “fully quantify the effects.” They not discuss any observations or conclusions about students’ coursework other than the video.

 

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