International Public Health (Germany) was launched by the Department of Behavioral and Community Health in May 2013 and is part of a recently executed cooperative agreement between the School of Public Health and the University of Cologne. This 10-12 day study abroad course compares the practice and venues for public health practice as they occur in the Federal Republic of Germany. Health issues unique to and associated with the country are examined. The experience is a comparative assessment of individual and community health needs, program planning and implementation, coordination and administration of programs, resource availability, health communication initiatives, research programs, policies, surveillance, environmental protection, health behavior, and social approaches to public health practice.

This travel program consists of a series of field experiences in and around Cologne to governmental and non-governmental agencies responsible for overseeing the health needs of German citizens.  In some years the course includes interactive experiences and jointly-conducted projects with students from this German university. Upon completion of travel, students are able to:

  • identify the health priorities in Germany
  • compare and contrast the social, physical, and environmental determinants of health between Germany and the United States
  • explain aspects of the health and social insurance systems of Germany
  •  assess how Germany is attempting to meet its public health challenges

In addition, opportunities are available for students to explore some of Germany’s rich culture and history in their leisure time. The trip is led by Dr. Robert J. McDermott, Adjunct Research Professor, who has conducted 14 similar trips involving students at five other universities based in the United States and Canada since 1997. With more than 50 trips to Germany, Dr. McDermott is well-versed in the knowledge of the country, its history, and its practice of public health.  The trip is open to and applicable for students in all areas of study related to public health, other health sciences, and many additional areas of social science.

Here is what students have said about this study abroad experience:

“Living and learning in Germany was an enriching experience both in the realm of public health and personally. I encourage everyone to take the chance to study abroad as it had truly broaden my horizons and revealed and provided me with new knowledge and perspective of life. It is truly an experience that will last forever!” 

"A great glimpse into one Western nation's approach to structuring public health. Dabbling in waste management, occupational health and behavior change, the field visits translate theory into action, and demonstrate the diversity of challenges facing today's public health professionals."

"Each day in the program is a new experience.  You meet new people, visit different public health sites, and see something you didn't see the day before.  It was a wonderful opportunity to experience the culture while building new friendships."

For more information email Dr. Elbert Glover, eglover1@umd.edu