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Award Shines Light on Global Health Studies

Northwestern receives Paul Simon award for program's international scope

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March 1, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A key goal of Northwestern University’s Strategic Plan is engagement with the world. This week, the University’s success in promoting global engagement was underscored when NAFSA: the Association of International Educators named Northwestern one of three winners of its 2013 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award

The prestigious award put a spotlight on Global Health Studies, one of Northwestern’s fastest-growing programs of study.

“The Global Health Studies program embodies the interdisciplinary spirit of the most successful programs at Northwestern and is training the next generation of global health leaders in every area of health policy and healthcare,” says Dévora Grynspan, director of International Program Development (IPD). Home to the Minor in Global Health, IPD works with all Northwestern schools to promote internationalization and cross-school collaborations.

Approximately 300 undergraduate students from all of the University’s schools are enrolled in the Minor in Global Health, which provides students with a strong foundation to think critically about world health challenges and practices. It is the only academic program on campus that requires an international experience.

Many more students benefit from International Program Development’s extensive global health curriculum, summer fellowships and overseas programs. IPD currently offers study abroad opportunities in China, South Africa, France, Chile and Cuba.

At the time of NAFSA’s announcement of the Simon award, Grynspan and IPD staff were in Tel Aviv finalizing details of a new public health program in Israel. Pending approval from the University Study Abroad Committee, the Israel program will be offered in Spring 2014.

Since 2000, IPD has promoted close collaboration among faculty in different schools and has served as a catalyst for a host of global health-related initiatives. Among those initiatives is the Center for Global Health at the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Kellogg Global Health Initiative at the business school.

Global Health has served as a model for other Northwestern efforts on campus and around the world, and has led to a network of international partnerships that has allowed the University to build and expand its international programs and international presence.

For example, Northwestern’s partnership with Sciences Po in Paris, where Northwestern students study Public Health in Europe, led to the creation of additional programs -- in European Union Studies and in Critical Theory, Literature and Media. Some 50 Northwestern students took part in those Paris-based programs this past fall.

The University also has expanded its faculty exchange programs at Sciences Po, bringing Sciences Po faculty to Northwestern and vice versa. These exchanges, in turn, have led to international research collaborations.

In a similar way, Northwestern’s public health partnership with Peking University has expanded to include research and medical exchanges as well as an undergraduate program in Political and Economic Development.

“The thematic and interdisciplinary approach to internationalization that Global Health has pioneered has increased Northwestern’s global engagement by creating an infrastructure and an international mindset among faculty, students and administrators,” Grynspan says.

Fairfield University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also were named winners of the 2013 Paul Simon Spotlight Award. The three universities’ exemplary efforts at internationalization will be profiled in a 2013 report by NAFSA: the Association of International Educators and honored at a November ceremony in Washington, D.C. during Education Week.

The awards are named for Paul Simon, the late U.S. senator from Illinois in recognition of his strong support for the establishment of the National Security Education Program. The program seeks to address critical national security deficiencies in language and cultural expertise.