ELEC 5047: Foundations in Global Health Enrichment Elective

Course Directors

Ruth Berggren, M.D., MACP
Jason Rosenfeld, DrPH, MPH

Course Description

The Foundations in Global Health Enrichment Elective is a longitudinal enrichment elective for MSI & II year medical students who are planning to pursue global health experiences during winter, spring or summer breaks. It arose in response to enormous student interest in international medicine, with increasing numbers of students choosing to spend time overseas during medical school.

This elective provides a foundation of practical knowledge in global health and optimizes the students’ overseas experiences, maximizes the safety of their travel, facilitates their adaptation to working in different cultural settings, and maximizes their impact in the communities where they serve.

The course material is presented through a variety of approaches, including lectures, online learning modules, small group case discussions, book discussions, journal club discussions and practical workshops. The global health experience portion of this elective utilizes a community service learning model, in which preparation, mentorship, evaluation, reflection and reporting are essential in meeting the expressed need of a particular community.  

The culmination of the course is an opportunity to participate at an international service learning site, either as a team member or as an individual, before the end of the academic year. For this global health experience to be a success, the student must possess some valuable strengths: a strong work ethic, dedication, maturity, problem-solving skills, and flexibility, just to name a few.

Students are selected into this course based on an application process.  We encourage interested students to apply who have general international experiences, an interest in global health, and a plan to integrate their experience and knowledge into their medical education and careers.

The application process for MSII students will open from July 1 –  July 15, 2023.  MSI applications will be accepted July 27 – August 9, 2023 (dates have been revised).  All completed applications will be reviewed, and students will be notified of their class acceptance the week of August 10, 2023.


  • To advance knowledge specific to global health issues, such as social determinants of health and health disparities, community health, preventive medicine, disease burden measurements, health policy, maternal and child health
  • To broaden understanding of chronic and infectious diseases impacting developing countries, with emphasis on HIV and TB
  • To highlight importance of prioritizing community resources-community leaders, public health services, faith groups, governments and other NGOs – to encourage collaboration
  • To teach diagnostic and management approaches of tropical infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue, typhoid, intestinal parasites, with opportunities for optional hands-on laboratory practicums through Preparing for Global Health
  • To provide a framework for understanding ethical dilemmas encountered in global health through case studies
  • To deepen insight into different cultures thereby building a foundation that promotes professionalism
  • To offer skills and knowledge geared towards enhancing students’ abilities

Course Requirements

  • Twelve sessions per year which include three (3) combined class sessions with **ELEC 5044 Leadership in Interprofessional Community Service Learning.
      • In-person sessions conducted by global health faculty 
      • Online lectures, readings, case discussions, and assignments
  • One global health experience abroad, which must be vetted by the global health committee and signed off by the course directors.  Complete a Grace Application via The Office of International Services portal for review by members of the Global Health Committee, providing a detailed description of the rotation or project, including your site/program mentor, project objectives with measurable outcomes, timeline and specific tasks/citifies. All applications must be submitted in accordance with deadlines as set by The Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics. The Global Health Committee and course directors will ensure that the activities are consistent with the objectives and policies of global health education at The Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics.  Students may not complete the elective at a location that has not been officially approved.
  • Book Seminar: In past years the selected book has been Mountains Beyond Mountains;  The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, by Tracy Kidder.
      • Read the book
      • Attend one of three opportunities to discuss the book facilitated by the course co-directors
      • If you have read this book, we welcome other book suggestions. Please contact globalhealth@uthscsa.edu with suggestions. Students have also selected Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
  • Attend at least two Journal Club meetings
  • Completion of a reflection exercise, i.e. written, oral, or photograph.
  • Completion of Student Site Evaluation: Global Health Student Site Evaluation

Sample Course Outline

August:  Introduction to Global Health

September:  Metrics and Social Determinants of Health 

October:  COVID-19 – A Global Perspective; Community Needs Assessment*; Health Communication**

November:  Ethics; Cultural Humility**

December:  HIV & TB; Reflection Workshop:  Project 6-55**

January:  Diarrhea

February:  Immunizations

March:  Nutrition

April:  Non-Communicable Diseases

May:  Course Wrap-up

**course in conjunction with ELEC 5044 Community Service Learning

If you are interested in this course, please contact masti@uthscsa.edu or globalhealth@uthscsa.edu for more information.