College News

Arts and Sciences to Offer New Global Health Minor

Beginning in the fall of 2020, the College of Arts and Sciences will offer a new minor in global health, which will allow students to get a holistic, thorough look at health disparities and issues in a number of communities around the world. 

“People are travelling all over the world every day,” said Dr. Lisa Pawloski, associate dean of international programs within the College and professor of anthropology. “And so we really need to have a good understanding of what’s happening elsewhere around the world to understand what’s happening in our own communities.”

The minor will challenge students to look at health from a community level, taking into account the politics, economics, cultures, and religions of a population while evaluating health concerns. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, students will take courses in several different fields, ranging from health behavior to medical anthropology to statistics, and even an option to explore the history of epidemics.

The global health minor will also require students to participate in a study abroad or experiential learning opportunity. This is imperative to the minor, according to Pawloski, because it allows students to learn the course material while gaining hands-on experience in a culture different from their own, whether it be across the ocean or within the state.

“One exciting thing about global health is that you get to cross cultural boundaries, and students are able to do that abroad or here in the United States,” Pawloski said. “Students can spend time learning about urban populations, rural populations, immigrant populations, Native American populations—students can interact with a culture different from their own.”

As students complete the minor, Pawloski wants them to better understand how health is intertwined with many different entities, from cultural values to economics. She also hopes that it allows students to see how intertwined the world really is. 

“Our current COVID-19 situation is an example of global health at work,” Pawloski said. “You have physicians and doctors in the hospital who are treating individuals with COVID-19 and have a medical background, but the global health people are out there trying to understand the associated comorbidities. Why does it seem more prevalent in men than women? Why did it spike in Italy, but not yet in Greece? These are the kinds of questions that a lot of physicians want to better understand because those answers help their practice.”

While the official introductory course itself will be available beginning fall 2021, interested students can take its foundation course, Introduction to Global Health (ANT 250) as an anthropology special topics course starting this fall. Other courses in the minor include public health, nutritional anthropology, climate change and health, medical ethics, statistics, and human rights and institutions. This minor was created by the College of Arts in Sciences in partnership with Education Abroad and the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and includes courses within the College of Education and the Culverhouse College of Business. For more information, please contact Dr. Lisa Pawloski at lpawloski@ua.edu