Global Public Health Initiative helps Drexel expand their reach

Student Darryl Fields stands in front of the Taj Mahal in India, where he conducted environmental and occupational health research during his second year at the Drexel University School of Public Health.

Drexel University has a long tradition of working locally on projects that promote community building and social justice. Their School of Public Health has expanded this tradition to an international scale with its Global Public Health Initiative, which was launched a year ago.

Many public health problems benefit from an interdisciplinary search for solutions, according to Shannon Marquez, the director of the program. For instance, HIV and AIDS, LGBT rights, child labor, access to clean water, occupational health and exposure to chemicals for agricultural workers are all public health issues that also have social, economic and political components.  “These issues transcend [geographical] boundaries,” Marquez says. “The majority occur in developing countries, but they also occur here in the U.S. The problems in underserved communities here may mimic those in other communities.”

The main concern is providing training and engagement activities for students, which is made possible by partnerships with organizations around the world. After a local internship during their first year, master’s degree candidates go abroad in the summer for global field experience. “They spend time in a practicum setting examining issues and strengthening their skills,” Marquez explains. “This way they learn about collaboration and partnering, cross-cultural communication, ethics and social justice, as well as program management skills.”

Degree options

In addition to a master’s degree, a one-year certificate program in Global Health is available through Drexel University Online. The program is geared toward both career changers and people already working in related fields, such as law, international development or public policy.

“Because it’s online, we have engagement from around the world, including Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa,” Marquez says.

The application deadline for the next available term, Winter 2013, is Dec. 7. For more information, visit


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