Maternal Health in the 20th Century: Historical Research in London's Wellcome Library

A photo of the 2017 London group with the NU flag

Improving maternal health was one of the recent Millennium Development Goals, but concerns regarding skilled birth attendants and women’s access to birth control began well before 1990. In this class, you will consider the historical roots of what remain contemporary problems through archival research in London at the Wellcome Library archives followed by a spring quarter course here in Evanston to delve more deeply into these topics.

Quick facts:

  • This course will be taught by Dr. Sarah Rodriguez
  • Students will spend spring break in London, England with Dr. Rodriguez completing archival research at the Wellcome Library and exploring the beautiful English city
  • Students’ travel, accommodations, and programming for spring break will be covered in full by the Program in Global Health Studies, generously supported by the Mabie Fund
  • Students accepted to and confirmed for the program will be required to both spend the entire spring break in London and enroll in and complete the spring quarter course (GBL_HLTH 310 Supervised Global Health Research: Maternal Health in the 20th Century)
  • This course can count as a core credit towards the Global Health Studies minor; it cannot count as the required international experience for the Global Health Studies minor

More on the course:

Students will explore the historical roots of contemporary maternal health issues by looking at this broad international concern through a focus on three groups that joined together to work on the concern during the 1960s-1970s: the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO), and the United States Agency for Development (USAID). Specifically, students will examine one of two topics: 1) the Joint Study Committee (JSG), formed between ICM and FIGO in the early 1960s to collaborate on initiatives to address high maternal mortality rates in LMICs, in particular focusing on the standardization of midwifery training; or 2) the grant provided by USAID from 1971 to 1980 to ICM and FIGO to integrate family planning into midwifery training.

The spring quarter seminar class will cover ICM, FIGO, and USAID, as well as discuss historical questions raised by the primary sources viewed at the Wellcome, other primary published sources from the 1960-1970s, and secondary sources relating to the larger topics of maternal health, maternal mortality, safe motherhood, and access to birth control (then commonly called family planning). 

Schedule for spring break 2017:

Saturday, March 18-Sunday, March 19: Students fly from Chicago to London

Monday, March 20-Friday, March 24: Students conduct research in the Wellcome Library archives, attend guest lectures and a medical tour of London, and explore the city

Saturday, March 25: Students fly from London to Chicago

To apply:

  1. Download and thoroughly read these application instructions, follow all steps indicated: Application Instructions
  2. Fill out this application no later than December 15, 2016 at 11:59pm CST: Maternal Health in the 20th Century Application
  3. Please note this is a competitive application process and there are limited spots in the course. Preference will be given to students who are interested in using this research as a basis for a senior thesis/capstone project and/or a future post-graduation project and/or a career.
  4. If you are interested in applying to this program and you are not a US citizen, please look into obtaining a visa to enter the UK as soon as possible. Reach out to Rebecca Haines with any questions.

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