Global Health Studies


  • Christopher Squier
Undergraduate minor: global health studies
Undergraduate certificate: global health studies
Graduate certificate: global health studies
Web site:

Study, research, and practice in global health places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Issues in the field include social determinants of health, health care disparities, infectious and noncommunicable diseases, environmental challenges, and human rights as well as economic development, health policy, and health systems.

The University of Iowa's Global Health Studies Program examines the complex processes influencing health and disease around the world. It considers not only the manifestations of significant diseases and public health and health care systems, but also the underlying forces and institutions—such as technology, politics, culture, legal structure, history, and economics—that collectively influence patterns of health and disease.

The Global Health Studies Program equips its students to:

  • identify the nature, magnitude, and distribution of factors that contribute to excess morbidity and mortality, including disparities in health status by gender, race, ethnicity, rural or urban location, and economic status;
  • understand how trade, labor, food supply and sustainability, the environment, climate change and natural disasters, pharmaceuticals, international aid, human rights, and conflict may contribute to health status; and 
  • be aware of and able to assess the appropriateness of intervention strategies to promote health and to address major health problems, particularly in low resource settings, and to be able to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of such interventions.

The Global Health Studies Program attracts undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from a wide range of disciplines, including public health, health and pre-health sciences, health economics, nursing, social sciences, environmental engineering, anthropology, history, law, business, journalism, social work, and education.

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs of Study

  • Certificate in Global Health Studies (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Minor in global health studies (undergraduate)

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences grants the undergraduate certificate and minor; the Graduate College confers the graduate certificate.


The Certificate in Global Health Studies requires 18 s.h. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 in work for the certificate. Completion of the certificate is noted on the student's transcript.

The undergraduate certificate program is open to current University of Iowa undergraduate students and to all individuals who hold a bachelor's degree and are not enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program. Undergraduates may earn the certificate or the minor in global health studies, but not both.

The graduate certificate is open to University of Iowa graduate and professional students.

Admission to the certificate program is competitive. Applicants must be in good academic standing and must be able to demonstrate interest in and understanding of the field of global health. For application forms and deadline information, see the Global Health Studies Program web site.

Work for the certificate includes core courses; electives; a health-related study or research project in an international setting, which culminates in a public presentation and report; and study of a language tied to the project. Students must earn at least 15 s.h. of credit for the certificate in advanced courses taken at The University of Iowa. They may choose courses offered by the Global Health Studies Program (see "Courses" below) and those offered by other departments and programs (see "Associated Courses" below).

Students may be granted credit toward the certificate for course work they completed up to two years before beginning the program. Graduate and professional students who would like to count credit from a degree program toward the global health studies certificate should consult their major academic programs.

The Certificate in Global Health Studies requires the following work.


All of these:

152:111 (GHS:4210)/173:111 (EPID:4210)/175:111 (OEH:4210) International Health3 s.h.
152:150 (GHS:3010) Research Design in Global Health (may be repeated for elective credit)3 s.h.
152:151 (GHS:3020) Proseminar in Global Health1 s.h.
152:152 (GHS:3030) Global Health Conference (may be repeated for elective credit)1 s.h.
152:160 (GHS:3720) Global Health Seminar3 s.h.

Students complete 7 s.h. of approved electives chosen from the lists under "Associated Courses" and "Courses" below. They may petition to use other courses as electives if they can demonstrate that the courses include substantial material related to global health. Students may apply up to 3 s.h. of academic credit earned for research, internship, or study abroad experiences to the elective requirement. Contact the Global Health Studies Program for details.


Students must complete a study or research project of six to eight weeks' duration in an international setting. They may develop and conduct a research project, participate in a health-related study abroad program, assist a faculty member with research, or complete an internship on a global/environmental health issue.

Projects require approval by the Global Health Studies Program steering committee and must be supervised by a faculty member. Students may apply for an international travel scholarship ($1,000); other financial support may be available for some projects. Visit the Global Health Studies Program web site for more information.

Language Study

Students should complete four semesters of modern language study or course work that fulfills or is equivalent to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program World Languages requirement. Language study must be tied to the required international study or research experience in order to count toward the certificate. Students whose first language is not English may waive the certificate's language requirement.

The Global Health Studies Program steering committee may require students to take additional language study in preparation for a research or internship program. Students interested in learning an infrequently taught language to facilitate their participation in an international experience should investigate International Programs' Autonomous Language Learning Network (ALLNET).

Public Presentation and Report

During the semester following the international experience, students present their international research project results to a special session of 152:150 (GHS:3010) Research Design in Global Health or to an equivalent public forum, such as a departmental seminar. Students also must submit a two- to three-page project report summarizing their research, study abroad, or internship experiences.


The minor in global health studies requires a minimum of 15 s.h., including 12 s.h. in advanced courses taken at The University of Iowa. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in the minor. Course work in the minor may not be taken pass/nonpass. Students may earn either the certificate or the minor in global health studies, but not both.

The minor is interdisciplinary, designed for undergraduates who wish to study health issues in a global context. Each student's plan of study for the minor is developed according to the student's interests and in consultation with a program advisor. Students may choose courses from those offered by the Global Health Studies Program (see "Courses" below) or by other departments and programs (see "Associated Courses" below); they should choose course work from at least two different disciplines. Students are strongly encouraged to include one of the core courses required for the Certificate in Global Health Studies in their plan of study for the minor. The program highly recommends that students complete a period of study abroad focused on global health issues.

Activities and Resources

The Global Health Studies Program organizes both on-campus and international activities and research opportunities for students and faculty members, enabling them to become acquainted with major global health issues. Several scholarships, academic fellowships, international fellowships, and research and study abroad programs supplement the global health studies certificate program. These are sponsored by the University and a variety of agencies. Contact the Global Health Studies Program for details.

Associated Courses

In addition to courses offered by the Global Health Studies Program (see "Courses" below), students may use the following courses to complete requirements for the certificate or minor.

153:108 (ASP:3008) Basic Aspects of Aging3 s.h.
113:133 (ANTH:4140) The Anthropology of Women's Health3 s.h.
172:130 (CBH:5205) Social Determinants of Health3 s.h.
172:150 (CBH:5220) Health Behavior and Health Education3 s.h.
06E:113 (ECON:3180) Health Economics3 s.h.
07B:195 (EPLS:5195) Research in Cross-Cultural Settings3 s.h.
175:197 (OEH:4240) Global Environmental Health3 s.h.
170:101 (MPH:5100) Introduction to Public Health3 s.h.



152:029 (GHS:1029) First-Year Seminar1 s.h.
Introduction to intellectual life of the University; opportunity to work closely with a faculty member or senior administrator; active participation to ease transition to college‑level learning.
152:050 (GHS:2150) Natural Environmental Systems3-4 s.h.
Environmental chemistry and biology of air, water, and soil quality, air and water pollution, limnology, global atmospheric change, fate and transport of pollutants; hazardous substances, risk analysis, standard setting. Prerequisites: 004:011 (CHEM:1110). Same as 053:050 (CEE:2150).
152:081 (GHS:1181) Ancient Medicine3 s.h.
Thematic examination of theories and practices of Greco‑Roman physicians, which in turn became the medical tradition of medieval Islamic world and European medicine until mid‑19th century; historical medical terms, theories, and practices. GE: Historical Perspectives. Same as 20E:081 (CLSA:1181).
152:090 (GHS:2320) Anthropological Perspectives on Human Infectious Disease: Origins and Evolution3 s.h.
Origin and evolution of important infectious diseases in human history; biological evolution of infectious agents and biocultural responses to emerging infectious diseases; primary focus on viruses and bacteria; selected world problems from an anthropological perspective; current dilemmas and those faced by diverse human groups in recent times and distant past. Same as 213:090 (ANTH:2320).
152:091 (GHS:2164) Culture and Healing for Future Health Professionals3 s.h.
Health professions increasingly focused on how to best provide health care to culturally diverse populations; introduction to key cultural and social influences on sickness and healing; worldwide examples. Same as 113:091 (ANTH:2164).
152:107 (GHS:3070) Hungry Planet: Global Geographies of Food3 s.h.
Societal and environmental implications of past, current, and future global food supply examined from a geographical perspective; focus on questions of who eats what, where, and why; transformative history of agriculture, modern agribusiness and alternative food supplies, geopolitical implications of food production, food scarcity and rising food costs, urban versus rural agriculture, the obesity epidemic versus malnutrition, and the future of food. Same as 044:107 (GEOG:3070).
152:109 (GHS:4508) Medicine and Public Health in Latin America, 1820-20003 s.h.
Survey of major topics in modern Latin American history in relation to development of medicine and public health. Same as 16W:108 (HIST:4508).
152:111 (GHS:4210) International Health3 s.h.
Urgent health problems in the developing world and among disadvantaged populations in developed countries; biological, social, cultural, political aspects of international health problems; applications of research methods from epidemiology, environmental health, social sciences. Same as 173:111 (EPID:4210), 175:111 (OEH:4210).
152:112 (GHS:4200) Global Environmental Health Policy3 s.h.
152:119 (GHS:3040) Health in Mexico3 s.h.
Use of anthropological perspectives to examine disease, healing systems, and ideas about health and the body in Mexico and its diaspora; relationships between structural conditions and historical and political transformations; ideas about gender and race; chronic and acute disease in Mexico; conquest and disease; racialized bodies; sexual health; biomedicine; shamanism; immigration and health; pollution and narcoviolence; readings in English. Same as 113:119 (ANTH:3111).
152:120 (GHS:4600) Global Health and Human Rights2-3 s.h.
Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
152:121 (GHS:3110) Health of Indigenous Peoples3 s.h.
Health problems and services for indigenous populations worldwide, from perspective of Fourth World postcolonial politics. Prerequisites: 113:003 (ANTH:1101). Same as 113:121 (ANTH:3110), 149:121 (AINS:3110).
152:125 (GHS:4100) Topics in Global Health1-3 s.h.
152:126 (GHS:4126) International Perspectives: Xicotepecarr.
Introduction to providing service to a community in a less developed country; student projects intended to improve community life in Xicotepec. Requirements: P3 standing. Same as 046:126 (PHAR:8788), 053:126 (CEE:4788).
152:131 (GHS:4111) Geography of Health3 s.h.
Provision of health care in selected countries, with particular reference to the Third World; focus on problems of geographical, economic, cultural accessibility to health services; disease ecology, prospective payment systems, privatization, medical pluralism. Same as 044:131 (GEOG:3110).
152:135 (GHS:4340) Global Health and Global Food3 s.h.
Practices, patterns, and policies that contribute to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in wealthy populations; environmental degradation, hunger, and malnutrition among impoverished populations; strategies to meet food and agricultural needs for the world; local/global aspects or perspectives on food/health concerns for Iowa and the international community. Same as 027:135 (HHP:4340).
152:137 (GHS:4160) History of Public Health3 s.h.
State‑endorsed measures to avert or control disease in society. Same as 16W:137 (HIST:4160).
152:138 (GHS:4162) History of Global Health3 s.h.
Foremost problems of health and disease in colonial and postcolonial societies; topical approach. Same as 16W:138 (HIST:4162).
152:139 (GHS:4150) Health and Environment: GIS Applications3 s.h.
Applications of GIS and spatial analysis for studying health outcomes and exposure to environmental contaminants at different geographical scales. Same as 044:137 (GEOG:4150).
152:140 (GHS:4605) Disease, Politics, and Health in South Asia2-4 s.h.
South Asia's long‑term success lengthening lives and stopping disease, weighed against its continuing burden of infection, violence, pollution, and class‑based suffering. Same as 16W:140 (HIST:4605).
152:141 (GHS:4141) Design for the Developing World3 s.h.
Experience working on interdisciplinary teams to solve problems of the developing world; technologies for improving water and sanitation, energy, housing, and health; community building strategies, participatory methods, other techniques essential to good design; service‑learning component. Recommendations: junior or higher standing. Same as 053:141 (CEE:4141).
152:145 (GHS:3113) Religion and Healing3 s.h.
Historical evidence of religious healing in Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, and Shaman traditions. Same as 113:145 (ANTH:3113), 032:180 (RELS:3580).
152:147 (GHS:2181) The Anthropology of Aging3 s.h.
Comparative anthropological perspective on aging; ethnographies from diverse contexts used to examine intersections of kinship, religion, health, and medicine in later life. Same as 113:147 (ANTH:2181), 153:181 (ASP:2181).
152:150 (GHS:3010) Research Design in Global Health2-3 s.h.
Preparation for an international research project. Offered fall and spring semesters.
152:151 (GHS:3020) Proseminar in Global Health1 s.h.
Important health problems and issues of a global and interrelated nature that affect the developed and developing world.
152:152 (GHS:3030) Global Health Conference1 s.h.
Annual research conference on major global health issues.
152:153 (GHS:3050) Global Aging3 s.h.
Demographic factors that contribute to the world wide phenomena of population aging in context of WHO Active Aging and the United Nation's Principles for Older Persons frameworks. Same as 042:135 (SSW:3135), 153:135 (ASP:3135).
152:154 (GHS:3060) Studies in Complementary and Alternative Medicine3 s.h.
Topics vary; may include studies in mind‑body medicine; complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); group of medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not considered to be part of conventional medicine; treatments used instead of standard ones (alternative treatments); nonstandard treatments used together with standard ones (complementary medicine); examples of CAM therapies (acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicines); approaches widely used in other parts of the world that may represent an important component of health care in a country (e.g., ayurvedic medicine in India).
152:155 (GHS:3555) Introduction to Africa for Health Sciences3 s.h.
Cultural, historical, and political framework for the delivery of health care services in African nations. Recommendations: junior or higher standing. Same as 187:155 (IS:3555).
152:156 (GHS:3151) The Anthropology of the Beginnings and Ends of Life3 s.h.
Examination of diverse understandings of birth and death, drawing on anthropological analysis of personhood, kinship, ritual, and medicine; how social inequality and new technologies shape human experience at life's margins. Prerequisites: 113:003 (ANTH:1101) or 113:010 (ANTH:2100). Same as 113:151 (ANTH:3151), 153:151 (ASP:3151).
152:158 (GHS:3850) Promoting Health Globally3 s.h.
Major global health threats in the United States and abroad; impact of culture, history, economics on health disparities; approaches, programs, policies to remedy them. Requirements: junior or senior standing, or certificate student. Same as 027:176 (HHP:3850).
152:159 (GHS:4240) Media and Health3 s.h.
Potential and limits of mass media's ability to educate the public about health; research and theory on the influence of information and entertainment media; theories, models, assumptions of mass communication in relation to public health issues. Same as 019:160 (JMC:4825), 172:140 (CBH:4825).
152:160 (GHS:3720) Global Health Seminar3 s.h.
Local and global dimensions of health and disease.
152:170 (GHS:3131) Health Care and Health Reforms in Russia3 s.h.
Societal changes and their continuing effect on the Russian health care system since 1991; guest lectures from public health, nursing, medicine, cultural anthropology. Same as 041:104 (SLAV:3131).
152:178 (GHS:3780) U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context3 s.h.
Historical and contemporary aspects of U.S. governmental planning and policy on a wide range of energy issues in global context. Prerequisites: 044:019 (GEOG:1070), and 044:003 (GEOG:1020) or 012:008 (GEOS:1080). Same as 044:120 (GEOG:3780).
152:180 (GHS:3760) Hazards and Society3 s.h.
Introduction to social science perspectives on societal responses to natural and technological hazards; risk perception and communication, disaster management, social vulnerability, and risk assessment; case studies of recent major disasters (e.g., Haiti earthquake, Tohoku earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident, Hurricane Katrina); current directions in hazards research, policy, and practice. Same as 044:175 (GEOG:3760).
152:182 (GHS:4230) Health Experience of Immigrants, Migrants, and Refugees3 s.h.
152:184 (GHS:5415) Anthropology and International Health3 s.h.
Anthropological contributions to and critiques of the international health enterprise; case studies illustrating anthropology and international health's intersection, and their differences. Offered spring semesters. Same as 113:184 (ANTH:5415), 172:131 (CBH:5415).
152:185 (GHS:3102) Medical Anthropology3 s.h.
Major theoretical, methodological approaches; international health and development; biomedicine as a cultural system; ethnomedicine; anthropology and AIDS, human reproduction, epidemiology, ethnopsychiatry. Prerequisites: 113:003 (ANTH:1101) or 113:010 (ANTH:2100). Same as 113:185 (ANTH:3102), 172:173 (CBH:5125).
152:191 (GHS:3191) Sustainable Development: India and the Global Context3 s.h.
Introduction to development in India; critical examination of current discourses on domestic sociological, economic, and ecological environmental effects of the current model of development; taught in Mysore, India.
152:192 (GHS:3192) Environment and Health in Modern India3 s.h.
Introduction to India's environmental and health traditions; major contemporary scenarios; taught in Mysore, India.
152:195 (GHS:4275) Research Methods in Disaster Studies3 s.h.
Epidemiologic study of disasters and their health consequences; research to identify and reduce health effects, research in context of response and preparedness. Same as 173:175 (EPID:4520), 175:175 (OEH:4520).
152:199 (GHS:4990) Special Projects in Global Healtharr.
152:217 (GHS:5455) Health Insurance and Managed Care3 s.h.
History and theory of insurance, comparative health systems, health systems and networks, HMOs, public health insurance, care for uninsured; emphasis on public policy. Prerequisites: 174:200 (HMP:5005). Corequisites: 046:263 (PHAR:6330) or 174:212 (HMP:5410). Same as 174:217 (HMP:5450).
152:252 (GHS:4220) U.S. and Global Environmental Health Policy3 s.h.
Major concerns in environment and human health, legislation enacted to deal with these concerns; emphasis on contemporary issues. Offered fall semesters of odd years. Requirements: for 175:252 (OEH:4220)175:197 (OEH:4240); for 053:204 (CEE:4220)053:050 (CEE:2150). Same as 053:204 (CEE:4220), 175:252 (OEH:4220).
152:257 (GHS:6550) Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases3 s.h.
Underlying epidemiological concepts of infection disease, including causation and surveillance; prevention and control; case studies. Offered fall semesters. Prerequisites: 173:140 (EPID:4400). Same as 173:255 (EPID:6550).