Date October 23, 2017
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Brown launches global health master’s degree

With an emphasis on global field experience and integration with social sciences, the Brown University School of Public Health will offer a two-year master’s degree in global public health beginning next fall.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, Brown University will offer a global public health master’s degree that combines traditional public health training in population sciences with rigorous social science and international fieldwork experience. The Corporation of Brown University approved the new degree program at its annual fall meeting on Oct. 21.

Graduate program director Abigail Harrison said the University expects to enroll a cohort of 10 domestic and international students in the first year and more in future years. Brown students, she said, have shown a deep and growing interest in gaining the scientific and cross-cultural expertise to address health challenges around the world.

“Reflecting on my experience with students at Brown, who place a very high value on global learning and experience, this is more than a trend — it’s a worldview that reflects younger generations of students who recognize that they live in a globally interconnected world,” said Harrison, an assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences in the School of Public Health. “Global public health at Brown specifically will attract students who want to combine high-quality academic experiences and rigorous training with field experiences and the development of competency in global settings.”

Only about five other universities offer a master’s in global health, Harrison said — and only about half a dozen more provide a global track within a traditional master’s in public health. Among those, not all require fieldwork. Students in the new Brown program, however, will work in one of several low- or middle-income countries such as Ghana, Samoa, South Africa, the Philippines or Mexico, during the summer between the program’s two years to “learn public health by doing public health.” The projects they perform will form the basis of their master’s theses.

Classroom-based curricular highlights include new courses on the ethics of community engagement, global organizations and policy priorities, and implementation science and public health interventions, Harrison said.

“The program will be distinct because it is at Brown and also because of the opportunity to combine top-quality, small-scale classroom experiences with field-based research and training,” Harrison said. “Our overarching goal for the program is to promote an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to examining and addressing global health disparities.”

The program will begin accepting applications late in fall 2017.