142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Using international university partnerships to educate undergraduate peers about global health challenges

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Megan Doherty, MPH , International & Local Service Learning Program, School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania,, Philadelphia, PA
Anastasia Shown, MSW , Africa Center, School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
George Yaw Obeng, PhD , Technology Consultancy Center, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technoology, Kumasi, Ghana
Ametor Donald Amrago, MSc , Technology Consultancy Center, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technoology, Kumasi, Ghana
John Keenan, PhD , Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Marton Markovits, PhD , Wharton Social Impact Initiative - Africa, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Lee Cassanelli, PhD , Department of History, School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Joseph Sun, MS , School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

International education and service-learning experiences among undergraduates facilitate the cultural and knowledge exchange required to solve future global challenges. For such challenges related to global health, international university partnerships can offer hands-on, collaborative experiences for peer groups of undergraduates from different countries. We discuss one such partnership, between a US and a Ghanaian university, that uses this framework to expose students to a variety of urban and rural public health determinants in Ghana.


This partnership was developed leveraging interdisciplinary collaboration and expertise on both sides, including grassroots community organizations and public health professionals in Ghana. A critical element was a pilot grant to cover planning including travel costs for each administrative team to travel to the other country. The program’s funding is sustained annually through a financial aid-eligible program fee applied to participants from the US university. 

Major results:

Many participants have pursued a global health path including funded-research for improving maternal health outcomes in Ghana, and designing biomedical devices for use in low-resourced settings. Ghanaian students have also used this experience to pursue other funded-global experiences. Importantly, this partnership attracts US undergraduates of color and students in the professional schools – including Nursing and Engineering -  who are normally underrepresented in global programs.


Global university partnerships with peer-cohorts can successfully leverage field experiences to expose students to the interrelatedness of social issues, technological and infrastructural challenges, and health outcomes. US campuses can successfully mobilize groups traditionally underrepresented in abroad experiences through these types of programs.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how to educate peer undergraduates from international partner institutions about global health challenges though applied experiences. Identify strategies to increase the diversity of US students who engage in global health opportunities.

Keyword(s): College Students, Partnerships

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I manage and develop international and local service programs in higher education, including multiple international university and NGO partnerships.
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.