This course is the foundation course for the Global Health minor. It examines domestic and international public health challenges in the context of development, healthcare infrastructure, aid structures, and the social context of illness. The course uses the social and structural determinants of health as a framework for understanding population health trends and health policy.
A priority area is the interconnected nature of the social and structural determinants of health, and how health outcomes affect and are affected by a lack of insurance, unstable housing, underemployment, addiction, and other challenges. Another priority is examining the effectiveness and reach of social programs as a safety net within existing policies and statutes.
Prior to joining Middlebury, I worked in public health, research, and consulting for over 20 years, most recently as an infectious disease epidemiologist. I have a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health. I have worked in the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors, and have worked with law enforcement and the military, so have professional experience with many different work cultures.
Students who enroll in the course tend to be passionate about health equity and social justice. Middlebury students in general have excellent research and written communication skills. They are eager to apply their learning to “real-world” challenges and to make positive contributions to the local community.
The semester is only 12 weeks long, and students can only be committed for that period of time. It is best for all if students can do the bulk of the work independently, on their own time frame (e.g., doing research or data analysis). The class typically has 30–34 students, so there should be multiple ways for the students to contribute individually or in small groups.
Because we have a 12-week semester that must be wrapped up, we need the partner organization to provide speedy responses to student inquiries (e.g., meetings with key personnel, obtaining documents, etc.) so that students do not lose time on their projects.
Partners must understand that any student contact with service users or their personal data can only occur with prior IRB approval. It is best for us to discuss a project several months before the project begins, so that I have time to obtain IRB approval if needed.
A student (as an independent study) analyzed social worker referral patterns for Vermont Legal Aid to help them understand training gaps in their medical-legal partnership with UVMHN.
Students in INTD 0257 during fall of 2019 undertook individual research projects for Porter Medical Center, showcasing innovative health outreach programs used elsewhere in the country to meet rural health needs (e.g., mobile health clinics, telehealth, cultural competency training for healthcare workers, support for elders living alone, etc.). This project culminated in a poster session and slides available for use by hospital administrators.
A cohort of students in spring 2021 are performing secondary source research and analyzing survey responses to support Porter Medical Center’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).