Launch of Palestine Social Medicine Course

Palestine Social Medicine Course

Read the 2024 course overview here 


Important dates at a Glance
Dates: July 29, 2024 – August 17, 2024
Application Deadline:  March 31, 2024
Open to: 20 students based in Palestine and the MENA region and 10 US-based students.
Cost of Participation: $2,750 (will be waived for applicants from the MENA Region)
Location: Amman, Jordan
Financial scholarships: Several need-based travel grants will be provided. 

Course Overview
The Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights—a partnership between the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights and the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University—is hosting its second annual Palestine Social Medicine Course. This three-week intensive summer course is designed to introduce students to the social, structural, political, and historical aspects that determine Palestinian health beyond the biological basis of disease.

The Palestine Social Medicine course brings together a multidisciplinary cadre of Palestinian and Harvard students for an experiential learning experience in Palestine. The course offers both conceptual and practical engagement with the structural determinants of health affecting Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Diaspora. The Palestine Social Medicine Course occurs annually at Birzeit University in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territories or the region. 

To supplement existing coursework, the social medicine framework offers a progressive approach to social and structural determinants of health education. The Palestine course builds on the expertise, experience, and curricula of EqualHealth’s successful annual social medicine courses in Uganda, Haiti, and the United States, which over the last few years have trained hundreds of health professional students from these countries and beyond to both understand and respond to the social determinants of health.

Course Objectives
The specific objectives of the course include:
1.    Educate Palestinian and Harvard health professional students on the social determinants of health in Palestine and other settings. 
2.    Integrate lectures and field visits into a comprehensive and dynamic learning experience.
3.    Develop student appreciation for the need to be historically deep and geographically broad in their approach to understanding the complexities of health inequity. 
4.    Build a growing network of structurally competent health professionals to address and champion Palestinian health.

July 29, 2024 – August 17, 2024

Amman, Jordan

Costs and expenses

MENA region students will have the following costs covered:
•    Course tuition
•    In-country transport and accommodation (flights excluded)
•    Coffee, lunch, and some dinners
•    Field visits
•    Course fees
•    All program activities, included scheduled cultural activities

There are a number of expenses that are not covered by the program fee that students are responsible to cover on their own. These expenses include:
•    International airfare
•    Ground transportation for personal purposes
•    Personal expenditures, communication, course materials, and incidentals

Some travel grants to cover these costs will be made available, please indicate whether you would like to be considered for one on your application. Students who need a visa to travel to Jordan are responsible for securing their visas themselves. An invitation letter to support the visa application can be provided.

Course Structure
Course pedagogy will include field visits, group discussion, presentations, and personal reflection to foster a transformative learning environment. Guest speakers will include a wide range of health and social actors including health practitioners, community organizers, activists, academics, and representatives from civil society organizations.

Curriculum Content
Curriculum topics will build learner’s core understandings of social medicine, social determinants of health, health activism, and the historical, social, and political context of Palestine. Core topics include: 

•    Self-awareness and structural humility 
•    What is social medicine and what is structural competency? 
•    Social medicine/structural competency approaches to clinical encounters 
•    A social sciences approach to disease in Palestine 
•    The human rights framework and the right to health in Palestine 
•    Health and health culture in Palestine 
•    Settler colonialism and its manifestations in Palestine 
•    Health and racism 
•    Case studies in Palestinian health 
•    Health systems financing 
•    Barriers to care in the oPt/Israel/diaspora and means of alleviating access

Core Faculty
•    Yara Asi, PhD. FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University and Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida•    Weeam Hammoudeh, PhD. FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University 
•    David Mills, MD. FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University and Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School 
•    Osama Tannous, MD. FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University 
•    Bram Wispelwey, MS MD MPH. FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School 

Priority of participation in the course will be given to students in the Medical, Public Health, Nursing, and Social Sciences. Any currently enrolled student in an undergraduate program in their third year or higher or any stage of a graduate program can be considered. The course is open to 30 participants of which 20 will be MENA-based students. The course will be taught in English.

To apply for the course please use this link

Participants will either be placed in single or double occupancy rooms. Breakfast will be offered at all hotel locations. Lunch will also be provided and be covered by the program for the majority of days. Though some dinners will be covered by the program, students will be required to make their own dinner arrangements for the majority of their stay. 

Program cancellations
In the event of cancellation of the whole course, the program is not responsible for refunding airfare, visa application fees, or any other incurred expenses not covered by course fee. While planning for your trip, consider purchasing travel insurance or refundable airline tickets. 
If students decide to cancel their participation for personal reasons, the deposit is nonrefundable. The remaining amount is not refundable if participants decide to cancel their participation for personal reasons, after June 1, 2024. Individual cases will be considered, and refunds of the remaining amounts will depend on the discretion of the organizers. 

2024 Application Timeline:
•    1 March 2024: Application process opens
•    31 March 2024: Application process closes
•    5 May 2024: Students will be notified of application decisions
•    20 May 2024: Students must confirm registration for the course

Need Additional Information?
For questions regarding the social medicine course, please reach out to Nadine Bahour at

Watch the recording of our webinar, Reassembling the Pieces: Experiences from the Palestine Social Medicine Course, to hear directly from students who participated in the inaugural Palestine Social Medicine course at the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University