Global Health: Trends and Challenges


3.0 units of USC credit




Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm

Special Dress Code



Do you care about equity and social justice? Are you intrigued by different cultures and global politics? Have you ever wondered how safe you are if a major disease pandemic begins to spread quickly across borders? Do you want to play a part in saving the world? Then join us in global health this summer!

In this course, students will learn about how people around the world live, what they die from, and study current approaches to preventing disease and improving wellness in diverse communities worldwide. The course takes a broad multi-disciplinary approach to investigating the environmental, social and political determinants of health around the world. We apply a very hands-on, practical approach through daily fun individual and group exercises- in and out of the classroom. The course is appropriate for students interested in medicine, public health, anthropology, international relations, international business, economics, law and other disciplines — in other words it’s for everyone!

Recent emerging outbreaks, such as Ebola and Zika, have captured headlines worldwide and illustrated how the intensification of global trade and travel facilitates the rapid spread of disease. Outbreaks of these diseases have also provided examples of how responses to these have violated of human rights and exasperated social injustices.

The first half of the course will focus on what drives the emergence and spread of new diseases, ranging from environmental changes to poverty, discrimination, and overuse of antibiotics.  Students will also learn the strategies used to detect, control and prevent infectious disease outbreaks locally and worldwide through practical case studies and interactive group exercises. Students will develop research skills and apply their new knowledge by investigating a mock-disease outbreak on USC’s campus and report back to the Summer Programs participants their findings.

The second half of the course will focus on other consequences of globalization on health, such as how poverty, gender, climate change and corporate activity result in rising rates of physical and mental health conditions. We will evaluate disadvantaged and marginalized communities and explore and discuss how human rights and justice can enhance global health. We will also practice using various research approaches, ranging from traditional surveys to photo installations, to generate evidence needed to advocate for policy changes.


  • Learn from numerous guest lecturers, including current leaders in the field from LA County Department of Public Health and non-governmental organizations working on global health and social justice issues
  • Benefit from an interactive, game-based curriculum that keeps students engaged in learning
  • Discover the variety of academic and career options in the field of global health and social justice
  • Build skills in effective reading, writing and research methods
  • Learn how to craft impactful public health messages
  • Investigate and solve disease outbreaks through hands-on experience researching an outbreak investigation as a disease detective
  • Two field trips to local public health sites

Topics of Study

  • Trends in global burden of disease
  • New and emerging infectious and chronic diseases
  • US and international laws, policies, and aid relating to health
  • Roles of poverty, human rights, social justice, and cultural competency in promoting health worldwide
  • Key global health leaders and organizations
  • Environmental degradation and climate change
  • Social determinants of health, including race, gender, and sexual orientation
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Social capital and community mobilization

“Having daily guest speakers come share with us their work in the field on homelessness, climate change, food safety, infectious disease outbreaks like West Nile and the flu, was a highlight of the class. I enjoyed learning about the different career paths in global health.”

Global Health Photo Album