Interdisciplinary Global Health Field Course


Maternal and Infant Health in Morocco: Women’s Rights and Family in Islam

This new McMaster interdisciplinary global health field course is open to ALL McMaster undergraduates and will run in Spring term, 2016. It is designed to provide students with an integrated linguistic, cultural, and historical study of public health in the Islamic North African Country of Morocco.

The focus is on determinants of health?the social, religious, epidemiological, economic, technological, legal, and gender issues that impact birth, pregnancy, women?s health, and the health of newborns and children. Students learn global health in cultural context, so they also receive intensive language training in Moroccan colloquial Arabic and learn about Islam, history, and anthropology.

This program was developed by Dr. Ellen Amster, the Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, with support from a U.S. Department of Education grant. It is the first program of its kind in Canada.

Open to all McMaster undergraduate students from all programs (Faculty of Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Business, Engineering, and Science), Level 2, 3, 4.

No foreign language knowledge necessary.

6 Units of McMaster University Credit.

4 weeks in-country in Morocco, plus a week of intensive instruction in public health and global health in Canada.

Program Cost: $6700 CND plus McMaster tuition fees. (about 700 dollars per 3 McMaster credits).

The program fee covers all costs of student airfare and activities in Morocco, meals, lodging, transportation, all instruction and materials in Morocco including the Moroccan Arabic language course, a Moroccan cell phone, guest lectures, site visits, camping, museum visits, computer lab access, homestay with Moroccan family, etc.

Program Dates: May 3-June 5, 2016 then a final research project is due on July 10.

Application is due February 22, 2016. Visit the Morocco Program Application Web Portal:

The application requires forms that are downloaded, filled out, signed, a faculty recommendation, a deposit, a student transcript, and a photocopy of passport. Visit the site for details.

Come to one of our upcoming general information sessions open to all McMaster students!

Tuesday, January 26, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Chester New Hall 607 B

Tuesday, January 26, 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., MDCL 2218


There is one week of intensive introduction to public health at McMaster University (May 3-6), 6 hours/day before departure for Morocco on May 7, 2016.

In the Morocco urban component (3 weeks) students will learn about the determinants of health and the array of social, government, and environmental factors that affect women?s reproductive health and infant and child health:

Tuberculosis and HIV morbidity (epidemiology), and the national policies for their prevention in Morocco, from the National School of Public Health in Rabat.

Violence against women, marital rape, child abandonment, unwed motherhood, and social views of sex and sexuality with ?MRA,? an NGO that educates women about their legal rights.

Students will meet with feminist, Islamic, and international NGOs that support women and children.

AIDS prevention and the work of the AIDS NGO ?Association de LutteContre le SIDA,? the oldest AIDS NGO in the Middle East/North Africa region. ALCS advocates for HIV infected persons, studies AIDS prevalence, and trains prostitutes, MSM (men who have sex with men), and sub-Saharan African asylum-seekers as AIDS peer educators.

Illegal African immigration and the health consequences for women,men, and children who come to Morocco or continue to Europe seeking asylum.

International health interventions in Morocco (Peace Corps),and Doctors Without Borders

Environment, Students will visit the largest water-treatment plant and research center in Africa, and learn about water scarcity and climate change in Africa.

Students will learn Moroccan colloquial Arabic at AMIDEAST a U.S. NGO that also teaches for the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Fulbright Scholars program, hosts 15 exchange programs for US universities, and has taught for the U.S. Peace Corps.

Site visits to ancient Islamic cities, Roman ruins, industrial shanty towns, will introduce students to health determinants of the built environment and traditional Islamic forms of sanitation, water provision, etc.

Students will live with Moroccan families in home stays.

In the Morocco rural component (one week), students will have a hands-on fieldwork experience that focuses on community health, the challenges of providing health care and maternity services 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 traditional midwives and local NGO leaders through a translator about health issues.

Study water sources, water usage, conduct water quality testing inhomes and rivers, help local women gather water, study the relationship between water and girls? schooling.

Learn about traditional birth practices and beliefs about nursing, women?s health, and nutrition.

Volunteer for an English language tutoring day for local school children.

Study a series of sustainable development projects created by local NGOs and the Atlas Cultural Foundation.

Help plan a Community Health Day, a popular education program for local people.

Lodge with the shaykh of the Islamic Hansali Sufi order in his home, and enjoy meals with his family.

Students each complete an individual research project upon return to Canada, thus the Morocco program can satisfy experiential learning and individual research projects for a number of academic programs. The Morocco program can be part of an ELE for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, for example, for the Global Health Specialization. Because it is a research program, students can apply for McMaster grants for experiential learning, individual research, and OSAP.

For more information about the Morocco program, also visit our dedicated website and student blog at:

The site provides bios of the speakers to the program, websites of the NGOS and other organizations we visit, an extensive photo gallery, the student blog from 2013 and 2012, the titles of student research projects from the class of 2013and 2012, and other resources.

Students must register for the 6 credits of the Morocco program but can do so in a variety of ways. Most students in most faculties can register for:

*Arabic 3MA3?Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (3 credits)

*HIST3GHS or ANTHROP 3GHS or RELIGST 3GH3 ??Interdisciplinary Global Health Field

Course: Maternal and Infant Health in Morocco? (3 credits).

The course is cross-listed in the Departments of History, Religious Studies, and Anthropology, you may choose any of these.

If you are a Bachelor of Health Sciences Student, you may register for the course in the codes listed above, or you may substitute BHSC credits (see Jen Landicho in BHSC).

Morocco program fees (total of $6700 dollars CND) must be paid in a cheque or wire transfer no later than March 22, 2016.

McMaster Tuition fees (about $1400 dollars) must be paid directly to the University Registrar. Mcmaster tuition can be paid by cheque, credit card, or wire transfer. Information for paying McMaster Tuition fees to Registrar only: Students must demonstrate that they have registered for McMaster credits no later than April 10, 2016. Tuition costs vary slightly by the student?s program.

For any questions, please contact us:

Ellen Amster, Morocco Program Director
Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine
Chester New Hall 616
[email protected]

Nathan Coschi
Program Assistant
[email protected]