SIT Jordan: Refugees, Health and Humanitarian Action
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.
Based in the capital city of Amman, the School for International Training (SIT) Jordan program examines crucial issues of modernization and social change in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a moderate Arab state coming to terms with political responsibility, social change, and the effects of regional conflict. While Jordan has made enormous strides recently in health care, literacy, and democratic and economic reform, it remains challenged by a lack of natural resources, environmental concerns, economic and social issues, and the impact of Palestinian immigrants and refugees, who now make up more than half of the nation’s population. More recently, Iraqi refugees have been pouring into the country and changing the demographic and physical landscapes of the capital.
Durban, the program base, faces public health challenges of immense proportions, and it lies near the epicenter of southern Africa’s HIV pandemic. Cultural views on health and varying levels of wealth and education influence access to and acceptance of public health services. You will be encouraged to think broadly about the perceived dichotomy between western and traditional medicine and appreciate the importance of acceptability and accessibility.
Fields of Study
African and African Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Development, Studies, Public Health, Social Policy and Practice, Sociology
- 3.0 cumulative GPA
- Completion of two semesters of Arabic at Tulane with a B average or better
- Preference will be given to students who have completed coursework with Middle Eastern content
This program will provide students interested in public health, health sciences, development studies, and other disciplines the opportunity to scrutinize humanitarian and refugee-related challenges. Students will learn from academics and practitioners associated with leading institutions in Jordan and Switzerland.
Major topics of study include:
In addition to courses focusing on these topics, students will take a Research Methods and Ethics course to prepare you for your Independent Study Project.
- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency healthcare system and the role of UN and international relief agencies in refugee assistance and humanitarian action
- The impact of refugees on the economy and various social sectors of the host community
- Health status, risk factors, and health services available to refugees and other vulnerable groups
- Socio-cultural, economic, mental health, and psychosocial challenges, such as identity crises and social inclusion, faced by refugees and displaced populations in Jordan
- Gender-specific vulnerabilities within refugee populations, with particular attention to issues of safety, discrimination, exploitation, and gender-based violence
- Protection and status of refugees and displaced populations in the Middle East and North Africa region
- The impact of Syrian refugees on Jordan’s economy, social sectors, and socio-political stability
- Principles and legal frameworks governing humanitarian action and minimum standards in humanitarian response
- Emergency and post-emergency health services for refugees and displaced population
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This seminar provides students with the necessary conceptual and methodological tools to undertake field study in Jordan. Students also learn the ethical and cultural considerations and procedures for conducting research with vulnerable populations such as refugees and displaced populations.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
The Independent Study Project is conducted in Amman or another approved location in Jordan appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: mental healthcare provision available to various populations, including refugees; the effect of daily stressors on Syrian refugee women; consequences of displacement on increased risks of domestic violence and gender-based violence; malnutrition in refugee children; refugee women’s empowerment and protection.
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.
Excursions help you learn about, analyze, and assess the humanitarian response to Syrian refugees and the socioeconomic impact of refugees on host communities and to hone your research skills. Excursions outside Jordan’s capital illustrate the sharp contrasts between urban and rural lifestyles
You will visit health centers and associations providing health services to communities and urban refugees in host communities. You will experience everyday life in this part of Jordan and study alternative medical treatments. Highlights of this excursion include:
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.
Dana Nature Reserve
The dynamic topography of the Dana Nature Reserve extends from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. You will experience the reserve’s impressive mountains, the ancient ruins of Feinan, the cliffs of Wadi Dana, and the village Dana.
You will spend a day visiting Petra, a treasure of the ancient world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wadi Rum is among the most stunning desert landscapes in the world. Here, you will experience the exceptional hospitality of desert people and Bedouin tribes and discuss health issues and available healthcare systems.
Northern Heights Excursion
This excursion takes you to the ruins of two Greek Decapolis cities: Jerash (Jerasa) and Um Qais (Jadara) as well as Ajloun’s Nature Reserve and the area’s historical and natural attractions. Northern Jordan hosts more than 80 percent of Syrian refugees; this excursion will enable you to assess the impact of refugees on host communities. Highlights of this excursion include:
You will see the Greek and Ottoman ruins of Jadara and enjoy sweeping views over the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee.
You will see the extraordinary ruins of ancient Jerash, one of the most impressive and best preserved Roman cities outside of Italy.
Ajloun is home to the Castle of Ajloun or Qalaat Errabadh. The fortress was built by Muslims in 1184–85 to protect the region from invading Crusaders. You will spend a night at the Ajloun Forest Lodge, which occupies a large clearing enclosed by oak, pistachio, and strawberry trees and offers beautiful views.
Madaba and Mount Nebo
Madaba is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of Palestine and the Nile delta in the 19th-century St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. You will visit the site and explore a smaller Jordanian city, then travel to Mount Nebo, which, according to ancient tradition, is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the most spectacular natural landscape in Jordan. It is also one of the world’s richest sources of natural salts and, with its therapeutic minerals, an important site for skin care.
You’ll spend most of your stay in Geneva, a major international capital. This excursion give you a chance to learn from experts about the international refugee system, the global refugee status, and the challenges health and relief agencies face in providing refugee protection and assistance. You’ll visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
You can also explore old Geneva, visit chateaus and fine arts and cultural museums, enjoy a cruise along the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva, and experience the city’s rich history, architecture, and cuisine. In nearby Lausanne, one of Switzerland’s prettiest cities, you can explore markets and the medieval Old Town.
Except while on excursion, you’ll live with a family in Amman. The homestay provides an outstanding window into Jordanian urban life and culture. Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of a typical Arab home.
Homestay families may include first- or second-generation Palestinian refugees, now major contributors to Jordanian social and cultural life. You will be integrated into your host family’s life, sharing meals and participating in family outings, shopping, and other activities. You may experience a Jordanian wedding ceremony or other traditional cultural activities. The homestay in Amman also gives you an opportunity to further enhance your speaking abilities in Arabic.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, research institutes, or small hotels.
SIT Jordan: Refugees, Health and Humanitarian Action
Contact Past Participants
Click HERE to contact recent study abroad alumni in this region.