Sonia Shah giving a presentation.
Program Overview

Global Health

Engage with the many facets of health and equity.

Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

What is Global Health?

Global health as a field of study, research, and practice encompasses those issues and challenges of human wellbeing that transcend national boundaries. Taking a holistic approach to both individual and communal health, Oberlin’s concentration in Global Health situates health science within a political, economic, and cultural context. Our curriculum places a strong emphasis on understanding health inequities at both national and international levels, connecting coursework and research with health equity initiatives.

Medical Policy and the Social Framing of Health

The Global Health integrative concentration draws from courses across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to develop a comprehensive set of perspectives on human health. In order to prepare students for a range of careers in the global health field, the concentration integrates coursework and practical experience, including an immersive internship.

Health professions represent the second highest employment sector among Oberlin alumni

Global Health Career Community

Oberlin’s career development center works with students interested in the field of global health to secure summer and winter term internships at the forefront of health research, advocacy, and service.

Two students smiling.
32 different majors (between the college and conservatory) are represented in the medical applicants from Oberlin in the past 5 years

Science with a Positive Social Impact

The curricular strengths of Oberlin’s science education combined with our ethos of social engagement prepare our students with the tools needed to make new discoveries, the skills to communicate them,  and the passion to have them make a difference.

A student doing an experiment in the lab.

Featured Courses

BIOL 035

Introduction to Global Health

This course provides an overview of global patterns of disease and the factors that influence human health. Students will learn about issues relating to social, cultural, behavioral, and environmental determinants of health. A specific focus will be placed on health issues relating to low income countries and underserved populations.

Taught by
Mary Garvin
NSCI 103

Environmental Toxicology and Global Health

This course is designed to introduce students to key global public health concepts, the history of public health, and how the core areas of public health can be integrated to promote health at a population level. Students examine basic concepts of toxicology, environmental science, neuroscience and many others as they apply to the effects of environmental pollutants on diseases. Students will engage in active learning through the use of individual and team activities, discussions, debates, and field experiences.

Taught by
Gunnar Kwakye
ANTH 227

Medical Anthropology

Cultivate an anthropological understanding of the intersections between disease, health, society, the body, culture, and global political economy. Drawing on accounts from across the globe, course topics  include: comparative study of health systems; cross-cultural definitions and understandings of disease, illness, and health; bodies, medicine, and the media; maladies from chronic pain to AIDS to cholera; topics in disability studies and fat studies; health, ethics, and morality; health inequalities; and global health.

Taught by
Damien Droney
PHIL 235

Biomedical Ethics

This course examines the ethical problems arising in the practice of medicine and biomedical research. Topics include death and dying, medical paternalism, physician assisted suicide, eugenics, cloning, research ethics, and more. Our readings will be drawn primarily from contemporary philosophers.

Taught by
Amy Berg

Student Profiles

Pandemic Impact Award

After graduating from Oberlin College with high honors in neuroscience and a concentration in linguistics, Zoe Swann ’19 immediately embarked on a PhD program at Arizona State University. Then COVID-19 struck.

Zoe Swann.

From Oberlin to Johns Hopkins Hospital

Sophia Yapalater ’13 is on her way to medical school. At Oberlin, she majored in comparative American studies, which gave her the framework to understand social issues “with an eye toward always prioritizing lived experiences of individuals and communities.”

Sophia Yapalater.

Researching Mental Health

At Oberlin, Ify Ezimora ’19 double majored in psychology and environmental studies and pursued research with a number of faculty. She now applies the skills she gained as an undergraduate to her current role as a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and the Miriam Hospital.

Ify Ezimora

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.


Students studying at night in Perlik Commons in the Science Center.
Photo credit: William Rieter