Return to the search form Return to your search results

SIT India Public Health, Policy Advocacy, and Community

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


New Delhi, India




2.5 GPA, good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Spring: 9/27, Fall: 2/24

Program Cost:

Refer to the Application tab for more details

Study Abroad Advisor:

Ana Jimenez

Photo Credit

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs — in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as the International Honors Program, comparative programs in multiple locations.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Public Health, Policy Advocacy, and Community

Explore the links between public health, gender, and community action in India and Thailand.

This program studies the relationship between public health and community in a field-study context. You will analyze specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health. Policy advocacy efforts for realization of the right to health on the national and international levels will also be examined, along with relevant public health schemes and programs.

Major topics of study include:

  • Public health systems in India and Thailand
  • India systems of medicine (Ayurveda and yoga)
  • Social determinants of health (poverty, gender, and caste) and health equity
  • Public health challenges: water, sanitation, and environment
  • The scourge of malnutrition and responses of the community
  • Regional and grassroots approaches to improving access to healthcare
  • Major communicable diseases such as TB, malaria, and HIV
  • Non-communicable diseases: diabetes miletus and cardiovascular disease
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to mental health
  • “Health” and its relationship to human fulfillment
  • Status of reproductive and child health
  • Community health workers’ role in the healthcare system
  • The National Health Mission (NHM) and status of reproductive and child health
  • Privatization of healthcare and medical tourism in India and Thailand
  • Policy advocacy for health

Students who participate in this course earn 16 s.h. For course descriptions and syllabi, please consult SIT's program webpage.

SIT Academic Program

Photo Credit

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Program Dates

For program dates, please consult SIT's program webpage.

For More Info

If you have questions or are ready to apply to this program, please make an appointment with program advisor by calling the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 (M-F, 8-5).

Ana Jimenez
Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator
Tel: +1 319-335-0353

New Delhi, India

Photo Credit

The program is based in New Delhi, India’s central hub for policymakers and organizations active in both health and human rights. Greater New Delhi is home to more than three hundred 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 New Delhi. You will be encouraged to utilize the city’s many academic institutions and resources, including its excellent libraries, to advance your learning.

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.


Photo Credit

SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Photo Credit

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.

New Delhi homestay

You will live with a carefully selected homestay family in New Delhi for approximately seven weeks. Families are typically middle class and of various sizes and religious backgrounds. A majority of host families have multiple generations living under one roof and are typically located in residential neighborhoods where transportation, shopping, and Internet resources are easily accessible. Most homestay families are at a distance of 20 minutes’ commute by Delhi Metro — known for its punctuality and comfort. The program center is located a walkable distance from the metro station.

In addition to providing unique living experiences, homestay families are trained by program staff to understand SIT program policies and procedures with regard to student health and safety. Furthermore, the program has a policy of putting 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.

Other accommodations include NGO guest houses, hostels, educational institutions, or small hotels.

Educational Excursions

Photo Credit

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. Most excursions are to underprivileged areas and aim to provide a better understanding of how social health determinants affect the lives of the poor in otherwise thriving India and Thailand. 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.


The excursion to Thailand provides opportunities to understand the role of NGOs in community mobilization and participation and health advocacy with the government and WHO and to learn about healthcare delivery in the context of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme under Thailand’s National Health Security Act of 2002, which has quickly become a model for universal healthcare coverage for many countries. The Indian government considers Thailand’s system a possible model for healthcare delivery reform of India’s existing free healthcare system. The excursion gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast Thailand’s and India’s healthcare systems, healthcare delivery, and policy environments.

You will visit primary health centers, NGOs, and communities to gain hands-on experience and knowledge. Possible site visits include the Community Health Center in rural Thailand, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, the Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University’s Faculty of Public Health, and the Ministry of Public Health.


You will also participate in a one-week workshop. Possible sites and topics include:

  • Goa - Mental health
  • Palampar - Traditional health practices of Ayurveda and yoga
  • Jamkhed - Community rural health
  • Udaipur - Reproductive and tribal health
  • Travel Arrangements

    Participants will make their own travel arrangements to India, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee. Information about airport pick up will be given at orientation. Students should book airfare to correspond with the arrival and departure dates given by SIT.


    This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

    • Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA: Students must have at minimum a 2.5 cumulative GPA to participate in this program.
    • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance, will not be allowed to study abroad, and are wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.


    The cost sheet (forthcoming) outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

    The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

    Financial Aid and Scholarships

    Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

    Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

    SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary, the credit is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

    Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details!

    How to Apply

    The application deadline is September 27 (for Spring applicants) or February 24 (for Fall applicants).

    Applicants must meet with Study Abroad advisor before application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319-335-0353. After discussing the program and its requirements, students can proceed with the UI Study Abroad Application.

    Once the Study Abroad advisor has approved their UI online application, participants must also complete the SIT application. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application. Final admissions decisions to the program are made by SIT.

    Pre-Departure Preparation

    Health & Safety Planning

    All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

    Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

    UI Financial Aid Information

    Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International TravelPDF form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

    Flight/Travel Arrangements

    SIT will provide you with a document called "International Flight Information" that will assist you with making travel plans and give the information you need to purchase your flight. Please refer to this document.


    If you need a visa, SIT will send you a document titled "Passport and Visa Information" and you should follow these instructions. Contact the SIT visa coordinator with questions or reach out to Study Abroad. You must have a passport valid for 6 months after your return date in order to apply for the visa, so please renew or apply for your passport as soon as possible.


    In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

    Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

    You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

    Program-Specific Orientation

    This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

    SIT Resources

    Contact a Former Student
    SIT Confirmation Materials
    Pre-Departure Materials by Program
    SIT Medical Review