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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Florida: A World of Good – Professor and Colleagues Publish Article on Public Health Study Abroad Pprograms

Ms. Laura Rusnak, a University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) faculty member, along with some of her fellow COPH colleagues, recently published a paper entitled, “Integrating diverse study abroad opportunities into public health curricula: Three distinct strategies to address common barriers.”  The article was published in the March 2019 edition of Frontiers in Public Health.

“In public health, we know that a global health perspective is required to prepare students for emerging challenges,” explained Ms. Rusnak. “I was inspired by my fellow undergraduate faculty colleagues who were developing study abroad courses around the world. As a department, we began to offer more and more opportunities for students to gain the skills they’ll need in our global public health workforce.”

From 2014 to 2018, the number of USF undergraduates who participated in a public-health focused study abroad program increased 275 percent, noted Ms. Rusnak. Today, the COPH offers undergraduates programs in Japan, London and Canada. “I figured other public health programs could benefit from the lessons we learned throughout this growth process,” she said, explaining how the journal article came to be.

Ms. Rusnak and her colleagues came up with strategies to circumvent common barriers students and universities face when they attempt to set up study abroad programs.

What advice does the article give?

  1. Add public health coursework to already-established study abroad programs. According to Ms. Rusnak, this allows for seamless planning and logistics; it also offers a level of security and stability.
  2. Use an academic travel company. Such a company can take care of the budget, logistics and administrative tasks.