Global Health Study-Abroad Course

Author: Linnie Caye

Applications are now open for the global health study-abroad course:


6 credits (3 of Moroccan Arabic, 3 of History/Global Studies/Women's Studies/Religious Studies)

3 weeks in urban Rabat (with trips to Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca)

1 week in rural Zawiya Ahansal in the High-Atlas Mountains, for hands-on global health fieldwork

This global health program is designed to provide students with an integrated linguistic, cultural, and public health experience in the Islamic African country of Morocco. Students will also gain a basic knowledge of Islamic religion, Moroccan traditional (Islamic) medicine, and medical anthropology.

The course introduces students to maternal and infant health issues in the third world and considers a range of social, religious, epidemiological, economic, technological, legal, and family issues that impact birth, pregnancy, motherhood, and the health of newborns and children in Morocco.

In the urban component (3 weeks), students will learn about the social determinants of health, the array of social factors that affect women's reproductive health and infant and child health. Students will learn about:
*tuberculosis and HIV morbidity, and national policies for their prevention in Morocco, from the National Institute of Hygiene
*violence against women, marital rape, child abandonment, and unwed motherhood
*visit feminist, Islamic, and international NGO's that support women and children.
*AIDS prevention and the work of the AIDS NGO "Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA," which advocates for AIDS infected persons, studies AIDS prevalence, and trains prostitutes, MSM, and illegal sub-Saharan African immigrants as AIDS peer educators.
*US health interventions in Morocco (Peace Corps, USAID).
*Students will live with home-stay families.
*Students will learn Moroccan colloquial Arabic at AMIDEAST--no previous Arabic knowledge necessary. The Arabic instructors also teach for the US State Department Arabic program and have taught for the Peace Corps.
*Site visits to ancient Islamic cities, shantytowns, and industrial areas will introduce students to health determinants of the built environment and traditional Islamic forms of sanitation, water provision, etc.

In the rural component (1 week), students will have a hands-on fieldwork experience that focuses on community health, the challenges of providing maternal and infant health care outside the state support structure, and the environmental determinants of health. Students will:
*hike out to remote villages that do not have water systems, and bivouac/camp
*interview midwives and local NGO leaders through a translator
*study water sources, water usage, conduct water quality testing in homes and rivers, help local women gather water, study the relationship between water and girls' schooling
*learn about traditional birth practices and beliefs about nursing, childcare
*consider nutrition, especially for infants, pregnant women, and nursing mothers
*help to plan a Community Health Day, a popular health exercise for local people.
*lodge with the shaykh of the Hansali Sufi order in his home, and enjoy all meals with his family.
*To learn about the Atlas Cultural Foundation, the NGO which receives students in Zawiya Ahansal, visit their homepage:

All expenses, all airfare, all meals, all travel, all tuition is included.

To register, visit the Center for International Education Website at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:

The course leader, Dr. Ellen Amster, is associate professor of Middle East History at UW-Milwaukee and has fifteen years of medical fieldwork experience in Morocco.

*She is the author of "Medicine and the Saints: Science, Islam and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956," from University of Texas Press:

*Dr. Amster was interviewed on the PBS program "International Focus" about the program.
To see the interview, visit the youtube link:

*For further information about the course, please contact Dr. Amster:

Dr. Ellen Amster
Associate Professor of Middle East History
Co-Coordinator, Certificate of Middle East and North African Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Office:  Department of History, Holton Hall 326
UWM faculty page:
Medicine and the Saints at UT Press:

Affiliated Faculty, Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mailing address:
Department of History
UW-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee WI  53201
Phone:  414-229-4749