UCGHI offers UC Students online education in global health

September 7, 2021

This fall’s online global health courses offered by UCGHI will soon begin, providing education to UC students on global health issues from the foundations of epidemiology to health justice and mental health.

“UCGHI leads UC’s effort to provide a high-quality virtual learning environment for students enrolled at our nine undergraduate campuses,” said UCGHI co-director Craig Cohen. “Taught by leading faculty in global health, students will have the opportunity to enroll in interdisciplinary classes to advance their knowledge about the complexities of global health,” he added.  

The online program began in 2017. This fall’s courses include Introduction to Global Health, which course organizers suggest students take first. Global Mental Health, Climate Change and Disaster Management, Foundations of Epidemiology, and Principles of Public Health are a few of the others offered.

While the courses are designed primarily for undergraduate students, graduate students who’d like an overview of global health topics can participate as well, said Oladele Ogunseitan, director of UCGHI’s collaborative effort with the UC Office of the President's Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI, newly rebranded as UC Online) to develop the courses.

The institute offers the courses, which are taught asynchronously, for three important reasons, Ogunseitan said. Just as COVID-19 has shown, pandemics have no demographic, geographic, or national boundaries, and knowledge about prevention and response needs a broad audience. The classes ensure UC students, who come from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, experience no boundaries to learning about global health. The classes showcase the UC system’s preeminence as a public university system with expertise across a wide range of global health fields because each course is developed by two or more faculty members on two or more campuses, he said.

Finally, the courses meet goals set by the California legislature, which expects the UC system to be “the torchbearer for promoting the health of people of California with understanding that we learn from the world,” he said.

In addition to his role as the UCGHI education director, Ogunseitan co-teaches the introductory course. Every week, the class takes on a new global health topic, such as the global burden of disease, pandemics, including COVID-19, and natural disasters.

The class follows what Ogunseitan describes as a learning quadrangle. Students learn to conduct research through a literature review on a topic. Next, they share or reveal what they found on the topic with all students in the class. They then reflect on how what they found is different from what other students did, and whether there are gaps in their knowledge. Finally, they face a reform challenge and have to devise a solution.

The courses have been offered as for-credit electives, but may soon also become part of academic programs or a program in their own right. UCGHI is working to create global health minors on every UC campus through access to the online courses. The courses may also be used for majors, as well as one day a certificate in global health through the Office of Continuing Education.