217954 Using Service Learning to teach Global Health in Urban America

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 5:20 PM - 5:32 PM

Michael D. Rozier, MHS , Department of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University, Brighton, MA
With the rise in global health education and the widening acceptance of service learning as a pedagogical tool, programs may be tempted to limit experiential learning for global health courses to international opportunities. However, examples suggest that service learning in local organizations can enhance student understanding of global health concepts. Students' own assessments demonstrate that service learning can be used to strengthen understanding of global health concepts even when in-class examples are set in places a world away from community sites. Classroom content and in-class activities focused almost exclusively on low- and middle-income countries. Service learning organizations targeted low-resource populations in urban St. Louis. After volunteering at least 20 hours with a community organization and processing their experience in the classroom setting, undergraduate students in Introduction to Global Health were asked to evaluate in a final paper whether their experiences in St. Louis strengthened their understanding of global health. Students reported that community experiences enhanced their understanding of burden of disease measurement, the challenge of behavior change, social determinants of health, the tension between private and public responsibility for health, and evidence-based public health. Students found it more difficult to connect classroom concepts regarding disease-specific interventions, demographic and epidemiological transitions, and organization of health systems. A qualitative analysis of assignments revealed that 95% (n=37) explained in concrete ways how community-level experience increased understanding of concepts previously discussed only within a global health framework.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe service learning as a pedagogical tool in public health education. Evaluate whether local service learning experiences enhance knowledge of global health concepts.

Keywords: Service Learning, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the program director for the undergraduate major in Community Health at Saint Louis University. I have taught Introduction to Global Health and have used service learning as a pedagogical tool to enhance student knowledge.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.