Global Health in a Local Context

A group of course participants walks through a path lined by tall grass

Global Health in Local Contexts: A Transnational Experiential Course on the Social Determinants, Health Equity, and Leading Change immerses students in the study of health equity, the social determinants of health, the practice of global health in a local setting, and community-based healthcare.

Beginning in 2021, this course offers a unique opportunity for students to co-learn with peers in Uganda and Haiti who will be engaged in parallel, geographically-based sub-courses.

Global, collaborative participation will promote understanding of the ways in which globally-connected social forces impact experience in local settings in similar and different ways. 

This course uses an inter-professional and experiential model. The course is "classroom-less" and entirely held in community settings, such as a rural Hmong Farm, the Center for Social Healing, Bdote/Fort Snelling State Park, and theatrical performance spaces throughout the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.

A thought bubble in a green circle

"It was such an honor to  be in this class. Having people from very different cultures and backgrounds come together and share their experiences and ideas in a safe and judgment-free zone was huge. Also, having class in different communities allowed me to see and experience each area while we learned its history and reality."

Hawa Jama, Community Health Worker, HealthPartners



Global Health in a Local Context Instructors

  • Lead Instructor: 
    • Michael Westerhaus - Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School; Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health; HealthPartners Center for International Health; Leadership Committe of EqualHealth
  • Co-Instructors:
    • Jennifer Hines - Medical Director, HealthPartners Midway Clinic
    • Amy Finnegan - Chair, Justice and Peace Studies, University of St. Thomas; Leadership Committe of EqualHealth
    • Aarti Bhatt - Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School Division of General Internal Medicine



A thought bubble in a green circle

"The multi-disciplinary nature of the course forced me to think outside of my own boundaries... It made me more committed to building health equity in every aspect of what I do. This was the best class I have taken ever."

Anonymous School of Public Health student



Discover How to Apply

Applications for this course are now closed. Interested students and participants can join this mailing list to receive program updates as they are available. 

Expand all



  • Open to all UMN graduate and professional students (post-baccalaureate).
  • The course is also open to members of the Twin Cities community with interest and experience in health-related careers.
  • All participants must apply, and have instructor approval, before they will be able to register. 

Credit & Requirements

Credit & Requirements

This program has both academic credit and non-credit registration options. 

Academic Credit

Academic credit is available to graduate students (3 credits) for the course GHSR 6713. This course was run in previous years as PUBH 6713.

It is up to the student to confer with their academic unit to determine if it meets their specific program requirements.

Students may be allowed to apply this program to other academic requirements per approval by their unit. Options may include:

  • Public Health students: Inform your advisor that this course was previously GHSR 6713. 
  • Dentistry Students: DPD CE Opportunity.  Contact Karin Quick at [email protected] for more information.
  • Pharmacy Students: Course may qualify as pharmacy elective credit when enrolled in the GHSR 6713 course. Contact Prosperity Eneh at [email protected] for details.
  • The course meets the requirement for the Health Equity Minor in the School of Public Health.


Participants who are not in need of academic credit can utilize this option. A Certificate of Completion will be issued for those that complete the requirements.

Medical Students: Medical School credit is not available for this program at this time. However 2nd, 3rd and 4th year Medical Students are welcome as non-credit students. Please discuss implications of fitting this extracurricular program and requirements into your schedule with your faculty advisors. Considerations by year:

  • 2nd year -  Students are still responsible for their required courses. Please be mindful of your semester course and exam schedule with this Wednesday night class schedule.
  • 3rd & 4th year - Students are required to attend their scheduled rotations, so appropriateness depends on schedule. Fourth year students additionally need to consider travel schedule for residency interviews.


All students are expected to miss no more than two class sessions and to complete the the following assignments:

  • Bi-Weekly Journal
  • Creating the Conditions for Health, Safety, and Well-being
  • Transnational partnership discussions and activities

Additionally, students seeking credit must complete additional requirements including a final paper.

Program Fee

Program Fee

  • For non-credit students, the Program Fee is $500.
  • For students registering for credit, regular tuition rates apply in lieu of program fee.
  • We do not want financial considerations to stop someone from applying. If there are extenuating circumstances that warrant a program fee adjustment, please contact us.

Dates and Location

Dates and Location

The class is held on Wednesday evenings at community locations. There are also four Saturday morning Zoom sessions with international peers and faculty in Uganda and Haiti who are involved in parallel courses.


  • Weekly Meetings: Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 8:30 pm
  • Monthly Saturday meetings: 9:00am to 11:00am on Zoom

The course is "classroom-less" and entirely held in community settings, such as a rural Hmong Farm, the Center for Social Healing, Bdote/Fort Snelling State Park, community centers, the Minnesota Department of Health, and theatrical performance spaces throughout the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.



Applications for the fall 2021 course are now closed. 

Course enrollment is limited to 30 participants, with up to 15 spots reserved for community learners. Students taking the course for credit must first fill out an application. Following review, they will be given permission to register in OneStop. 

Application Process

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Initial application review will begin in June, and then continue on a rolling basis.
  3. Once accepted, program staff will provide participants with instructions on how to complete the registration.
  4. If the course is full, applications will remain open until a sufficient wait list is obtained.