A Commitment to Global Education

A Commitment to Global Education

A woman sits next to an elderly man who is on a medical bed. They are smiling and talking.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 15, 2020) – While many School of Public Health students typically participate in international programs during the summer session, this year looks a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, right from their homes, students are able to continue their globally-focused learning with innovative programming such as the SUNY COIL Global Commons Program.

The SUNY COIL Global Commons Program is a virtual, six-week study abroad course in which SUNY students complete coursework on intercultural storytelling and international perspectives on one of six selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The participants also complete a project in partnership with community based nonprofit organizations around the world.

“SUNY students want to make positive contributions to the world. By partnering with community based organizations that are addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges, like health, poverty and the environment, students can really engage and support their important work while gaining global perspectives”, says Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director of the SUNY COIL Center.

John Justino, Director of the Center for Global Health at the UAlbany School of Public Health, developed a module on health equity and is an instructor for the course on International Perspectives on Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3). Through his course, students are looking at good health and wellbeing through two different frameworks: a “health equity lens” and a “family and child mental health” lens. After completing coursework, his students will collaborate with the Primary Health Care and Health Management Center, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria that provides health and social services to older adults.

Students from across the SUNY system are enrolled in Justino's course, providing those outside of the discipline with important public health information and concepts that they can apply to all their globally-focused work, regardless of their academic degree program.

“I applaud SUNY and the SUNY COIL Center for taking the initiative to develop the SUNY COIL Global Commons Program,” says Justino. “The current COVID-19 pandemic underscores that it is more important than ever for students to remain engaged globally and that we as educators ensure they graduate with a truly global perspective.”

Justino works with students interested in global health and global careers every day, providing global health seminars and global health events, facilitating connections between global partners, assisting students with study abroad options, and more.

“At the Center for Global Health, we stress to our students the need for anyone working globally to be flexible, adaptable and resilient,” Justino says. “By responding quickly and proactively to the current situation and developing this unique course, the professionals involved here at SUNY have demonstrated these very traits and I am pleased to be involved in such an innovative, creative and exciting program.”

The SUNY COIL Global Commons Program is just one of the ways that public health students can enhance their global perspective. For more opportunities, please visit the Center for Global Health’s website or contact John Justino at jjustino@albany.edu.


Pictured at top of page: Staff working with community members at the Primary Health Care and Health Management Center in Nigeria, the non-governmental organization partnering with Justino's course.