Improving the Quality and Value of Short-term Student Experiences in Global Health

December 5-6, 2017
Lehigh University 
Final Report (.pdf) 

Thousands of students participate each year in short-term global health activities, yet these programs have been the object of growing criticism focused on lack of real impact and the potential for harm. This affects both the volunteers and the host communities, making the risk for sponsor organizations a growing concern among administrators, educators, and legislatures. Leaders involved in short-term international health experiences have developed guidelines for best practices, yet research suggests that most programs do not follow them. And potential volunteers, host partners, and college and university officials wanting to know which organizations to approve or recommend do not have useful sources to identify the best (or the worst) programs.
Led by Lehigh University professor Judith Lasker, author of Hoping to Help; the Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering, this forum brought together speakers representing the cutting edge of research and practice in this field and provided an opportunity for attendees to formulate strategies to ensure the highest quality opportunities for students. The presentations and discussions were relevant to staff and faculty in international education, study abroad, global health and development studies, pre-health advising, graduate health professional schools, and service learning who seek to provide the most valuable experiences for their students and the most value to host communities.

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