Global Health Service Learning Program

The Global Health Service Learning Program is a new program at UAB that allows you to apply your academic skills and experience, critical thinking, and creativity to a real community health problem while earning academic credit and building your resume. This course offers an opportunity to work with students from other UAB schools while collaborating with a community partner organization to address an issue identified by the community.

How it Works

Students work in groups of 3-5 based on their interest in the proposed community projects. For the first 5 weeks of the course, students learn about basic concepts of health disparities, global health, project planning, and interdisciplinary teamwork. Teams then work with their community partners to implement the projects they have developed for the last 7 weeks of the course. 


Mary Evans
Deputy Director
UAB Center for the Study of Community Health

Tamika L. Smith, M.S.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
School of Public Health

The courses in this program have been developed collaboratively by faculty representing 11 schools and departments including Public Health, Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, Engineering, Business, Social Work, Sociology, Education, and the UAB Honors program. For a description of the IGHSL courses offered in the 2013 academic year, click here

Upcoming 2014 Courses

Global Health Service Learning (GHS 220)
This course provides students with an opportunity to apply principles of interprofessional collaboration, community partnerships, and global health in the development and implementation of a project to address a global health problem in collaboration with a community partner.  The global health problem may be addressed in collaboration with a partner at a local site, at a site within the U.S., or at an international site.  Students apply concepts and theories related to global health, interprofessional collaboration, team building, community partnerships, and the ecological framework developing and implementing a plan to address a specific global health problem with a community partner.  The course focuses on planning and implementing a service learning project that will benefit a community partner. 

Interprofessional Global Health Service Learning  (GHS 649)
The course focuses on providing content and skills necessary to collaboratively planning and implementing a service learning project that will address a community need.  The course is primarily experiential, with student time spent on planning and implementing the project and applying leadership and project planning skills.  Students are expected to share leadership and assume primary responsibility for planning, implementing, and evaluating the team-based projects.

In 2013, participating students worked in partnership with local non-profit agencies to analyze and implement a plan to address a problem identified by their community partner. The program will be expanded to include international partners in Jamaica and India in 2014. 

Cahaba Valley Healthcare

Project Description: to identify individuals in the community who lack a permanent dental home but who cannot afford to pay for dental care, to establish a network of local dentists willing to provide long-term care to these patients, establish a method to monitor if patient needs are being met, document the benefit to patients from this intervention

Christ Health Center

Project Description: develop a way to target health professions students with education and cultural sensitivity to dissolve stigma and stereotyping toward the poor and the services they need

Jefferson County Department of Health

Project Description: establish a GIS map of storm drains and their connections in the city of Lipscomb and to develop a model for mapping other cities in the county

Urban Ministry, Inc.

Project Description: develop a resource guide, awareness video/marketing, and other activities for the annual Collard Green Cook-off and Wellness Expo, currently done in connection with the West End Urban Community Garden, to be able to expand this type activity to other communities

One Roof

Project Description: create a Vulnerability Index specific to Birmingham to evaluate local homeless individuals for housing and other urgent and limited resources


Nalini Sathiakumar, MD, DrPH
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health

Dr. Nalini Sathiakumar is an environmental and occupational epidemiologist and a pediatrician. Funded by industry and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), she has conducted pioneer research in occupational health, occupational cancers, and health effects of environmental exposures including heavy metals, indoor and outdoor air pollution and pesticides with a special focus on infant and early childhood neurodevelopment. In addition, she has led several NIH-funded training grants such as the International research and training in environmental and occupational health (ITREOH) program in South Asia. Under this initiative, she has trained several emerging scientists in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, and mentored their research. As part of this program, she spearheaded the development and implementation of competency-based Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program in Manipal University in India and the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka; the latter is the first program in the country. Dr. Sathiakumar has served as an expert for the Institute of Medicine, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH, World Health Organization.etc. She is the recipient of several awards and honors including the President’s award for excellence in teaching.

Lynda Law Wilson, RN, PhD, FAAN, Professor
Assistant Dean for International Affairs and
Deputy Director, PAHO/WHO  Collaborating Center on International Nursing
School of Nursing

Dr. Lynda Wilson is a Professor of Nursing at UAB where she also serves as Deputy Director of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Center on International Nursing and as Assistant Dean for International Affairs. Dr. Wilson has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a Master ’s Degree in Maternal-Child Nursing from the University of Delaware, and a PhD in Child and Family Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Marcela Frazier OD, MPH, FAAO
Assistant Professor
School of Optometry

Dr. Marcela Frazier is originally from Medellin, Colombia. She completed a pediatric residency at The UAB School of Optometry. She became involved in health education after obtaining her Master’s degree in Public Health at UAB.  She has helped produce a radio soap opera dedicated to chronic disease prevention in the Hispanic community.   Her interests include amblyopia treatment, vision screenings, and vision care for Hispanic children. She is a board member and regular volunteer for Cahaba Valley Health care, a community based organization that provides access to health care to Latinos in parts of Alabama. She has lead her students on several mission trips with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) to Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Colombia.


Advisory Board

  • Alan W. Eberhardt, School of Engineering
  • Allen Conan Davis, Behavior & Population Sciences
  • Cathy McElderry, School of Social Work
  • Craig Hoesly, School of Medicine
  • Diane Tucker, Department of Psychology
  • Libba Vaughan, Service Learning
  • Fred Michael Belue, Department of Medical Education
  • Grace Jepkemboi, Curriculum Instruction
  • Grant Savage, School of Business
  • Harry Hamilton, Department of Sociology
  • Henna Budhwani, School of Public Health
  • Julio Rivera, Honors College
  • Karen Kennedy, School of Business
  • Kristine Ria Hearld, Department of Health Service Adminstration
  • Noel Childers, School of Dentistry
  • Pamela Paustian, Healthcare Management
  • Renato Corbetta, Government
  • Stephen Voss, student representative
  • Weslie Shannon, student representative
  • Kimberlee Krubinski, student representative