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Global and Comparative Public Health

Global and Comparative Public Health Concentration

A concentration in Global and Comparative Public Health (GCPH) prepares students to be active participants in improving the health of their own and other communities worldwide. Students will gain an understanding of the determinants of the health of populations; the available options to improve the health of populations; and the evidence demonstrating the efficacy of these options. Currently, the GCPH concentration enrolls over 70 students.

Through the GCPH concentration, students will learn to:

  1. Identify the determinants of health.  These determinants will include but are not limited to biological, environmental, economic, political, institutional and social factors;
  2. Describe the various public health interventions that may influence the health of populations and differentiate between them; 
  3. Explain how the health status of a given population is interdependent with the health of all populations globally; 
  4. Explain and give examples of how culture relates to health and apply this knowledge to conversations about health in different settings; 
  5. Explain how the indicators of health of a given population may be assessed; 
  6. Analyze the relationship between health and social justice; 
  7. Describe the factors (social and cultural) that affect the relevant behaviors of a population; 
  8. Devise the questions that may be asked to examine the health of a population;
  9. Apply evidence-based thinking to population health concerns.

The GCPH concentration complements various majors, including Biology, BCMB, Pharmacy, Health Sciences, International Relations, Politics, Law, Politics and Society, Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy, and Philosophy. Students who complete the program will be well prepared for graduate study and/or careers in fields related to public health. 

Requirements for the Concentration:

A total of 21 credits are required, distributed as follows (see course catalog to identify any prerequisites for listed courses):

Required courses (9 credits):

HSCI 144 Introduction to Public Health 
(typically offered fall semester only)

POLS 127 Global Health 
(AOI: Engaged Citizen; typically offered spring semester only)

HSCI 143 Epidemiology 
(typically offered fall semester only)

Electives (12 credits): Take at least one from Natural Sciences list and one from Social Sciences/Humanities list:*

Natural Sciences:

BIO 092 Introduction to Ethnobotany (AOIs: Global and Cultural Understanding; Life Science)

BIO 108 Infectious Diseases
 (AOI: Engaged Citizen)

BIO 111 Evolved Foodways
 (AOIs: Global and Cultural Understanding; Life Science)

BIO 145 Medicinal Ethnobotany

BIO 182 Immunology

CHEM 012 Food and Health

Social Sciences and Humanities:

HIST 194 Public Health History (AOI: Historical Foundations)

HSCI 142 Community Health Education (2 credits)

HSCI 147 International Health Topics (J-term travel seminar to Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences, India) (AOI: Global and Cultural Understanding)

HSCI 106 Culture Care and Health Literacy

HSCI 153 Health and Development

PHIL 124 Health and Social Justice (AOIs: Engaged Citizen; Critical Thinking)

PHIL 151 Environmental Justice

SCSS 071 Environmentalism in the United States
 (AOIs: Engaged Citizen; Values and Ethics)

SCSS 076 Inequality and Public Health

SCSS 081 Medical Sociology

SCSS 138 Global Reproductive Politics

SCSS 145 Food and Society

Span 154 Spanish for Health Care

WLC 148 Intercultural Communication 
(AOIs: Global and Cultural Understanding)


Experiential Learning (Local or international) Experiential learning is NOT a required part of the concentration. However, students participating in pre-approved experiential education programs such as service-learning courses, research, capstone experiences, internships, etc. may count these credits towards the concentration elective requirements under either Natural Sciences or Social Sciences/Humanities depending upon content. Pre-approval of content required by program director. PHAR 285: Belize, Pravara, Beijing and KwaZulu-Natal Rotations, open only to Pharmacy students, are pre-approved for 3 credits of Natural Sciences electives for the GCPH Concentration.

Students may declare the concentration by filling out the Change of Record Form and submitting the form to your college administrative office. Inquiries should be directed to Professor John Rovers, GCPH Director.

Drake University is a member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium.

Resources in Global and Public Health

What is Public Health?
Video on Public Health
Life Expectancy Improvements Illustrated
Download Drake's GCPH Advising Handbook
(Drake University Law School)
 (Drake University Law School)
(Drake University and Des Moines University)