India: Health and Human Rights
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“My experiences with SIT taught me the importance of meaningful cultural exchange and direct immersion. By engaging in the complexities and rewards of everyday life in local communities, I evolved a truer and deeper appreciation of India. This reflection left me with an insatiable desire to continue broadening my global perspective, which I am hugely obliged to be able to do through a Fulbright fellowship. In truth, my journey as an English teaching assistant in Malaysia is an attempt to honor and grow what I learned through SIT about the transformative power of cross-cultural understanding.”
—Poonam Daryani, Scripps College
The program is based in Delhi, India’s central hub for policymakers and organizations active in both health and human rights. Greater Delhi is home to more than 300 international and more than a thousand local NGOs actively involved in the health and development sector: the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, and other rights-focused organizations are headquartered in Delhi. Students are encouraged to utilize the city’s many academic institutions and resources, including its excellent libraries, to advance their learning.
Delhi has an extensive public transportation system, many parks and green spaces such as Lodhi gardens, sports facilities, and dozens of historical monuments and cultural associations. The city sees itself as both cosmopolitan and distinctively representative of its ancient roots.
Thematic seminar on health and human rights
The program’s thematic seminar includes lectures by nationally prominent academics and experts in the fields of health and human rights. Lectures address issues such as:
- International principles of public health and human rights
- Public health systems in India: traditional, Ayurved, homeopathy, Unani, and allopathy
- Issues and challenges pertaining to mental health
- Major debilitating diseases such as TB, malaria, and polio
- Reproductive health and HIV/AIDS
- Privatization of medical education
- Health tourism
Workshop with an Indian NGO
Students spend one week of the semester working with a local organization or individual actively working for public health and positive change in India. This gives students the chance to examine health related work firsthand and to have practical experience in the field in preparation for the Independent Study Project.
Possible workshop sites include:
- Prayas (Chittorgarh, Rajasthan)
- KIRAN Centre (Varanasi)
- Jaipur Foot (Jaipur)
- Centre for Health and Social Justice (New Delhi)
- Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement) (Pune)
- Population Foundation of India (New Delhi)
- Naz Foundation (India) Trust (New Delhi)
- Centre for Science and Environment (New Delhi)
- American India Foundation - India Office (New Delhi)
During the workshop, students integrate fieldwork techniques — such as formal and informal interviewing and participant observation — as part of the process of understanding health and human rights. Students work individually or in groups of three or four.
Students receive intensive instruction in standard Khari Boli Hindi. The four-credit course emphasizes speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Students are strongly encouraged to practice their language skills outside the classroom by using Hindi in daily life, particularly with host families and during their workshop.
Independent Study Project
During the final month of the semester, students work on an Independent Study Project (ISP) to critically examine a topic, situation, or community relevant to the topic of health and human rights in India. The ISP is conducted in North India or in another approved location appropriate to the project.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
- International, national, and regional responses to epidemics and pandemics
- Health equity and disability
- Major public health challenges of diseases such as TB, malaria, and polio
- Access to reproductive and children’s health
- Health financing
- Impact of globalization on public health
- Health planning and management
- Privatization of medical education
Students are matched with an ISP advisor who works with his or her student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the research project. ISP advisors include professors of public health; environment, health, and human rights activists; health policy planners and advocates; and healthcare professionals.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: New Delhi
Language Study: Hindi
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