SIT India: Public Health, Gender and Community Action
New Delhi, India
About the Program
The SIT program model is one of experiential learning abroad. SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT programs are based on the experiential learning model, which merges hands-on learning with reflection. Programs combine classroom learning with time spent in the field observing, interacting with local stakeholders, and learning from local experts.
Site visits and other learning experiences are relevant to the program’s theme. A program focused on global health may include visits to hospitals, rural clinics, or refugee camps. A program focused on economy may include an internship with a local business or financial institution. Students studying climate change and natural resource management may spend extensive time in nature reserves and national parks.
This experiential approach gives you the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of a critical global issue. You may find yourself interviewing local community members in the local language (with the help of a translator, when necessary), observing wildlife in its natural habitat, practicing a local art form, or participating in a community project designed by local development experts.
The SIT Study Abroad India: Public Health, Policy Advocacy and Community program studies the relationship between human rights and health in a field-study context. Students will analyze specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health. Advocacy efforts for health and human rights on the national and international levels are also examined, while considering relevant international declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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.
New Delhi, India
The program is based in New Delhi, home to more than three hundred international and a thousand local NGOs actively involved in health and development. The National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, and other rights-focused organizations are headquartered here. New 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. You will have access to the city’s many academic institutions and resources, including its excellent libraries, to advance your learning.
Fields of Study
Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Public Health, Social Policy and Practice, Sociology
This program will provide students interested in public health, health sciences, development studies, and other disciplines the opportunity to scrutinize health-related challenges as they intersect with gender issues and community-based practices. Students will learn from academics and practitioners associated with leading institutions in India.
- 3.0 cumulative GPA
- Previous college-level coursework in public health, development studies, or other related fields is also required
Major topics of study include:
In addition to courses focusing on these topics, students will take a Field Methods and Ethics in Social Science and Health course to prepare you for your Independent Study Project or internship. During the final four weeks of the program, you will either participate in an internship seminar or conduct an Independent Study Project.
- Social determinants of health (poverty, gender, oppression, caste, and hierarchy) and health equity and social justice
- The scourge of malnutrition, failure of the health system, and response of the community
- Public health systems in India: traditional, Ayurveda, homeopathy, Unani, and allopathy
- The political economy of health (globalization, the WTO, the IMF, and World Bank)
- Regional and grassroots approaches to improving access to healthcare
- Major debilitating diseases such as TB, malaria, and polio
- Issues and challenges pertaining to mental health
- “Health” and its relationship to human fulfillment
- International principles of right to health
- Status of reproductive and child health
- Privatization of medical education
- Potential ways to promote health
- Policy advocacy for health
- Health tourism
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in North India or in another approved location. Sample topic areas: 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; incentive strategies and health outcomes production; health financing; impact of globalization on public health; health planning and management; privatization of medical education.
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a primary healthcare center, local public health organization, think tank with a focus on public health, research organization, m-Health business organization, or international NGO with a public health focus. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable public health work experience and to enhance their intercultural skills in a developing world context and an international work environment.
SIT programs are cohort- and field-based. You will be intensely studying a topic with a group of American students, taking a prescribed set of courses. These courses are supplemented by guest lectures given by local specialists in the fields of study along with site visits and excursions to various locations within the country.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
By living with Indian host families, you will have an excellent opportunity to practice language skills and share daily life, including many memorable meals. You may also experience special cultural activities, including religious ceremonies and weddings.
Field excursions are an integral part of this program. You will visit rural and tribal communities, NGO headquarters, academic and research institutes, and hospitals in urban and rural sites across northern India and hear lectures onsite.
Most excursions are to underprivileged areas and aim to provide a better understanding of how caste- and gender-based oppression affects the lives of the poor in otherwise thriving India. These excursions allow you to interact with community leaders and victims of health inequalities. You will learn about the struggle to survive and challenges of acquiring adequate healthcare.
As part of the excursions, you will participate in health awareness and healthcare work implemented by partner NGOs.
The visit to Bahraich orients you to healthcare delivery in India. You will visit all levels of public healthcare institutions—primary-level community health centers, secondary-level district government hospitals and women’s hospitals, and a sub-center in a nearby hamlet—and observe their delivery of healthcare. You will meet doctors, paramedic staff, patients, village health workers, women, children, and community leaders in forest villages on the Nepal border.
After the adoption of the National Rural Health Mission in India, the role of NGOs expanded dramatically. NGOs now also work as research and policy advocacy organizations in the public health sector. The main objective of this excursion is to introduce you to the role of NGOs in connecting people with health services. The excursion focuses on health issues of marginalized groups in India. You will learn about remote tribal populations and their healthcare needs and concerns.
The excursion to Udaipur incorporates visits to the following NGOs:
Staff will brief you about the organization’s values, challenges, and areas of work, including promoting pre- and postnatal care in remote locations. You will then visit remote tribal areas of the district, where Seva Mandir has trained traditional birth attendants and accredited social health activists.
Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti (JJVS)
JJVS works in integrated rural development, promotion of traditional health systems, and involvement and advocacy. Here, you’ll meet traditional healers, visit herbal gardens, and learn traditional perspectives on life, development, and health.
Diyya Mother Milk Bank and Malnutrition Treatment CornerYou will visit the mothers’ milk bank and malnutrition treatment corner at RNT Medical College Hospital in Udaipur. Here, you’ll learn about severe malnutrition among tribal populations and the rehabilitation program of Rajasthan state and the national government.
In Varanasi, you’ll visit the KIRAN Centre, a center providing education, skills, vocational training, and physical rehabilitation for children and youth with conditions such as polio, cerebral palsy, rickets, and hearing impairments. The organization was founded in 1990 by people of different social, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Kiran literally means “ray of light.”
In Jamkhed, you’ll visit the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), one of the most effective community health projects in India. CRHP has worked among the rural poor and marginalized in Jamkhed for more than 37 years. By partnering with village communities and expanding on local knowledge and resources, the project aims to meet the immediate and long-term needs of underprivileged groups, especially women, and to empower people, families, and communities, regardless of caste, race, or religion.
You will live with a carefully selected homestay family in New Delhi for approximately nine weeks. Families are typically middle class and of various sizes and religious backgrounds. A majority of families have multiple generations living under one roof and are in neighborhoods where transportation, shopping, and Internet resources are easily accessible. Most families are about 20 minutes’ commute from the program center, which is walking distance from the metro station.
Families are trained to understand SIT policies and procedures regarding health and safety. The program policy is to place two students of the same gender in one home. Two students living in one home and traveling to and from program activities together helps enhance the safety of students. In the event of an emergency, families are equipped to respond. Over the course of the semester, the homestay coordinator and academic director will check in regularly with you and your homestay family.
If you opt for a rural workshop, you may live for a week in a Himalayan community in a remote village of the Nainital district in Uttarakhand state.
Other accommodations include NGO guest houses, hostels, educational institutions, or small hotels.
SIT India: Public Health, Gender and Community Action
Contact Past Participants
Click HERE to contact recent study abroad alumni in this region.