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Global Health and Social Responsibility: Reexamining Medical Missions (Mini Medical School Session #1)


The idea of global health may seem exciting...even adventurous. Media and the movies portray it as doctors and researchers traveling the world to tropical locations with a mission to 'save the world'. While this image has inspired generations of well-intentioned global health practitioners to take up the mantle and pursue work in global health, it has also created for-profit industries and interventions that can cause more harm than good. The multi-billion dollar business of voluntourism is just that—a business—and one that profits off well-meaninged do-gooders at the expense of the communities they claim to help. Negative impacts to communities include the loss of jobs due to volunteers from the global north taking on work that could be done by paid community members, undermining of local systems and structures, the use of culturally inappropriate interventions managed without input from experienced and trusted partners, and potentially even most concerning, the medical treatment of patients in underserved communities by personnel that may not be trained or licensed to so.

During session 1 of the University of Minnesota’s Mini Medical School: A Focus on Global Health, a panel of individuals committed to social responsibility will discuss the history and impacts of short-term global health interventions— with a specific focus on medical missions. By attending the session, you’ll learn how and why global health interventions can be controversial or misguided, and how to evaluate important considerations when engaging with and supporting global health interventions.

Mini Medical School offers a unique perspective into the health sciences at the University of Minnesota. Community learners with a shared interest in health embark on a journey examining the scientific foundations of health and disease. Presented using common language for ease of understanding complex topics, your guides are internationally renowned experts who are shaping the way health care is delivered locally and globally.


  • Judith Lasker, Professor Emerita of Sociology and Health Medicine and Society, Lehigh University
  • Myron J. Aldrink, Chairman, Medical and Surgical Skill Institute
  • Bruce Compton, Senior Director of Global Health, Catholic Health Association of the United States


  • Shailey Prasad MD MPH, Executive Director & Carlson Chair of Global Health, Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility

Learn more about Mini Medical School: A Focus on Global Health.