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Comparative Public Health: Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Belgrade and Sarajevo , Bosnia and Herzegovina

Belgrade and Sarajevo , Bosnia and Herzegovina

Program sponsor: Northwestern

Summer 2017 group poses with one of their professors during dinner overlooking Sarajevo.
Summer 2017 group poses with one of their professors during dinner overlooking Sarajevo.
Avni Singh in front of Dubrovnik old town wall.
Avni Singh in front of Dubrovnik old town wall.
Public Health in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Summer 2017 group photo.
Public Health in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Summer 2017 group photo.

This program introduces students to healthcare systems and policies in the former Yugoslavia and to the specific public health challenges facing these post-socialist and post-conflict societies. Students will spend four weeks in Belgrade, Serbia, followed by four weeks in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they will develop a nuanced and comparative perspective on the politics and history of recent conflicts, as well as relevant social and political determinants of health disparities, in the region.

Through four one-credit courses, site visits, cultural excursions, and supervised field activities at community health organizations, students will learn about:

  • the cultures, languages, and communities in the region
  • the impact of war, humanitarianism, and neoliberal economic reforms on local health systems
  • the place of health and healthcare delivery in postwar reform and reconstruction processes
  • the pressing current health policy debates and public health challenges in each country
  • post-traumatic stress, humanitarian psychiatry, and post-war mental health care

Begin Application Process


GBL HLTH 390-SA-20: Public Health and Mental Health in Serbia

Local public health and medical scholars and practitioners will introduce students to the healthcare systems and policies of Serbia; the impact of war and the “transition” from socialism to market-based economic policies on public health; and pressing current health policy debates and public health challenges. In addition, the course will cover key mental health challenges in Serbia and how they are being addressed in policy and clinical practice. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers.

GBL HLTH 390-SA-21: Public Health and Mental Health in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Students will explore the contemporary healthcare systems and policies of Bosnia-Herzegovina under the guidance of a range of local health scholars and practitioners from academic institutions, healthcare services, and nongovernmental organizations. The course will consider themes introduced to students in Serbia, including the long-term effects of war, humanitarian aid, and the “transition” from socialism to capitalism on public health. In addition, the course will explore mental illness and mental health care in Bosnia in depth, including challenges related to war trauma and post-traumatic stress. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers, and students will also have the opportunity to engage in supervised field activities under the auspices of the psychosocial services NGO Wings of Hope.

SLAVIC 255-SA-20: Slavic Civilizations: History, Culture, and Politics of Serbia

Students will receive introductory lectures on the cultures, literature, art, history, and religions of Serbia, as well as the politics and policies of Serbia’s post-war transition to liberal democracy, a market economy, and candidacy for European Union membership. This course will also include instruction in basic Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language skills, with a focus on navigating daily life and transportation and responding appropriately to daily greetings and gestures of hospitality. Instruction will be provided by a range of faculty members from the humanities and social sciences.

SLAVIC 255-SA-21: Slavic Civilizations: History, Culture, and Politics of Bosnia-Herzegovina

This course will introduce students to the histories, cultures, and contemporary governance of Bosnia-Herzegovina in comparison to Serbia and other post-Yugoslav states. Faculty from the humanities will guide students in exploring Bosnia-Herzegovina’s dynamic past and diverse religious and cultural traditions through art, literature, and visits to sites of historical significance. Lectures from faculty in the social sciences and visits to national and international institutions of governance will introduce students to the political framework created by the 1995 Dayton Accords, questions of national identity and statehood, and the policy reform challenges that Bosnia-Herzegovina faces on the road to European Union membership. The course will also continue instruction in basic local language skills focused on essential day-to-day phrases.

Program Requirements


Open to NU and non-NU students from all majors.


No language pre-requisite.


Apply for permission to study abroad
All students are required to apply for permission to study abroad. Learn more about the process, deadlines, and access the application on the apply to study abroad page.

This Northwestern Program has a maximum enrollment capacity. If there are more applicants than spaces available, then admission to this program will be competitive. It is highly recommended that you include a second choice program in your Northwestern Study Abroad Application, in case you are not offered admission to this program. Listing a second choice program in your Northwestern Study Abroad Application does not affect your chances of getting admitted to this program. Review the admissions criteria and selection process for Northwestern Programs on the application review process page.


Program Contacts

Estimated Credit

4 Northwestern units. This program offers a set curriculum, so students must enroll in all program courses. Courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcripts and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.


In both locations, students live in university-arranged housing and will have access to breakfast as well as basic kitchen and laundry facilities, en suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi. Affordable dining options are abundant in both Belgrade and Sarajevo.

In Belgrade, students will share double rooms in the university’s famous King Alexandar I dormitory (also known as “Lola”). The dormitory is centrally located in downtown Belgrade, with easy access by foot, taxi, or public transportation to university buildings, sites of historical and cultural interest, nightlife, and shopping.

In Sarajevo, students will stay in double rooms at the Hotel Berr in the center of Sarajevo’s downtown Ottoman Quarter, Baščaršija. The hotel is truly in the heart of urban life in Sarajevo, and plentiful affordable dining and recreation options are just outside the door. Students will have easy access to classroom and site visit locations via the tram stop located around the corner.

Host Institution

The University of Belgrade is the largest and oldest university in Serbia. Founded in 1808, the university has approximately 90,000 students and 4,000 teaching staff. The School of Medicine is networked with institutes of public health, hospitals, clinics, and medical research facilities throughout the country.

The University of Sarajevo is the oldest institution of higher education in the former Yugoslavia, tracing its history to the founding of an Ottoman Islamic law college in 1531. As a modern, secular university, it was established in 1949 and is the most prestigious institution of higher education and research in Bosnia-Herzegovina with approximately 50,000 students and over 1,000 teaching staff.

Wings of Hope (Krila Nade in Bosnian) was founded during the siege of Sarajevo in 1994 to provide psychosocial care to young people and to facilitate reintegration into familial and social life. Since that time, it has grown to become one of the most effective and well-respected NGOs in Sarajevo, implementing a broad range of services to the hundreds of vulnerable Sarajevo families that participate in their projects each year.

Program Resources

Browse the program handbook for more detailed information about excursions, courses, and identity-based considerations. Note: This is the previous year's handbook and should be used for informational purposes only. Do not make and travel plans based off of the dates or information provided here. 

Review identity-specific information about Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina:


Program Cost

Summer program costs vary, but summer study abroad tends to be much less expensive overall than a regular quarter at Northwestern. Review the comparison.

Summer 2020: $11,750

Billed by Northwestern
  • Tuition: $6,200
  • Housing: $2,000
  • GeoBlue: $100

Total program fee: $8,300

Estimated Additional Costs
  • Airfare: $1,800
  • Meals: $1,000
  • Local transportation: $100
  • Books & supplies: $50
  • Personal expenses: $500

Total: $3,450

Financial Aid & Scholarships

  • Students applying to this program are eligible to apply for GLO scholarships and are also encouraged to apply for other funding opportunities.
  • Northwestern students receiving financial aid during the academic year may be eligible to apply for summer aid for this program. Visit the summer aid & scholarships page for additional information.

Program Financial Details

This section outlines some of the billing and financial arrangements for Northwestern Programs, and is intended as a guide to help you navigate the financial aspects of your study abroad process. You should always refer to your program materials for the most current information and instructions. Contact your study abroad adviser (listed above) if you have any questions.

Program Confirmation

Once you are approved to attend a Northwestern study abroad program, you will need to complete a Program Confirmation form to confirm your participation. Northwestern students admitted to Northwestern programs are not required to pay a confirmation deposit, but will be charged a cancellation fee for withdrawing from the program after confirming.

Northwestern Invoice

Your Northwestern invoice will be issued through CAESAR on the regular quarterly schedule, and will include your program fee, which includes tuition, accommodations abroad, all related program activities, and international health insurance. Your program's billable costs and estimated budget are outlined above.

If you receive financial aid and/or loans, these funds will continue to apply directly to your CAESAR account. If you were awarded a ULA scholarship, it will also disburse to your CAESAR account.

If you use the Northwestern 9PAY plan, you may continue to use 9PAY for your NU-billed study abroad expenses, but you should request a study abroad 9PAY estimate to have your plan set up appropriately. The 9PAY plan is not available for summer programs.

Student Visa Financial Certification

If you are required to obtain a student visa, you may need to provide documentation that you will be supported financially for the duration of your time abroad. This may require bank statements from your parents and/or a financial aid award letter; review your visa application instructions carefully to be sure you are providing the appropriate documentation, and contact ULA for assistance.

If you primarily fund your education through financial aid and/or loans, you may also contact Krista Bethel in the financial aid office to request a letter of financial support.

Withdrawal & Refund Policies

If you withdraw or are dismissed from a Northwestern Program after submitting your program confirmation form, you are subject to the withdrawal & refund policies for Northwestern Programs.