Decolonizing Global Health
“Decolonizing and democratizing global health are difficult, but vital goals” ~ Dr. Roger Glass, Director of Fogarty
Below are resources to learn more about engaging in global health in a mindful and equitable manner. If you are planning to volunteer, shadow, or work with communities abroad, please also refer to our pre-departure resources. Undergraduate students are encouraged to check out our student-created Undergraduate Global Health Manual.
What to Watch
- Decolonizing Global Health
- Aspen Health for All (Decolonizing Global Health Live Conversation)
- Global Health Partnerships: Check Your Privilege at the Border | Lisa V. Adams | TEDxDartmouth
- Emory University Decolonizing Global Health
- Science Must Fall? (University of Cape Town)
- Culture and Race in Global Health Research (Airhihenbuwa 2019)
- Science Must Fall?
- Culture and Race in Global Health Research
- What’s Wrong with White Saviours? | How Not to Be Racist
- Health Systems Global
Social Identity, Bias, Ethnocentrism, and Cultural Considerations
- Social Identity TED Talk
- Therapist Reacts to Implicit Bias in ZOOTOPIA (00:00 – 8 min; 16:40-19:10)
- Cross Cultural Etiquette – Mr. Baseball
- Funny, But True: Cultural Differences
- Gestures Around the World
- Greetings From Around the World
- Who Wants to Be a Volunteer?
- Decolonising The Mind | Lydiah Wangechi | TEDxParklands
- Wayuu creation myth
- Leitis in Waiting documentary
- Decolonization Is for Everyone | Nikki Sanchez | TEDxSFU
- Pedagogy of the Decolonizing | Quetzala Carson | TEDxUAlberta
- Twitter: @GlobalHealthOrg, @paimadhu, @udnore, @cairhihenbuwa
- Social media hashtags: #decolonizescience, #decolonisescience, #decolonizeglobalhealth
- Edinburgh Decolonizing Global Health Online Conference 2020
- Emory Global Health Institute (Decolonizing Global Health Series: Ensuring Equitable Partnerships)
- Harvard Chan Student Committee for the Decolonization of Public Health (Decolonizing Global Health Conference 2019)
- Duke University Decolonizing Global Health Working Group
- Scientific and Research Colonialism from the 2020 Vanderbilt Global Health Research Symposium
- Decolonizing Global Health in the Era of COVID-19 Conference – Resource Document (overview of many resources)
- Decolonizing Global Health in the Era of COVID-19 Conference – Videos
- Recorded lecture on Scientific and Research Colonialism from the 2020 Vanderbilt Global Health Research Symposium (Rose 2020)
What to Read
- “Colonial Medicine and Its Legacies” and other book chapters of Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction
- Will global health survive its decolonisation?
- Who Should Lead Global Health?
- Notes on fake decolonization (Op-ed)
- Colonialism as a Broader Social Determinant of Health
- How decolonization could reshape South African science (News Feature)
- Global Health Matters Newsletter (Newsletter)
- How (not) to write about global health
- Decolonising ideas of healing in medical education (Extended Essay)
- How not to become a global health expert (Blog Post)
- Doing Global Health (Book Chapter)
- Science Still Bears the Fingerprints of Colonialism (Op-Ed)
- Decolonising global health: if not now, when?
- Decolonising Global (Public) Health: from Western universalism to Global pluriversalities
- Decolonizing global health: what should be the target of this movement and where does it lead us?
- Racism is Global
- Science Still Bears the Fingerprints of Colonialism
- It’s time to end the colonial mindset in Global Health
- Decolonizing global health is difficult, but vital goal
- Scientific Colonialism
- Decolonising Global Health – United Nations University
- Decolonizing Global Health: A Moment To Reflect On A Movement
- Time to Decolonise Aid
- Decolonizing African Religion: A Short History of African Religions in Western Scholarship
- Toward Decolonizing African Philosophy and Religion
- Instagram: No White Saviors; Listen to the podcast
- The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom
- Reflection on thesis “Decolonizing and Localizing Peacebuilding Through a For-Profit Social Enterprise: The Story of Coffee for Peace and PeaceBuilders Community”
- Reflection on inclusion in business
- Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed (socio-historical perspective and concept of critical consciousness)
- Watch: A Beginner’s Guide to Decolonization | Kevin Lamoureux | TEDxSurrey
- Watch: Deepen Your Understanding of Decolonisation | Samantha Moyo | TEDxBrighton
- Watch: What’s left of you? Performance, decolonisation & self-determination | Jules Orcullo | TEDxUCLWomen
Indigenous Peoples and Perspectives
- What is decolonization, why is it important, and how can we practice it?
- Kumu Hina
- Tongan Leitis’ Association
- Wayuu Taya Foundation
- Social media: @transhawaii, @thecontingency, @af3irmhawaii, @joey_joleen, @utopia_wa
- Navigating Identity and Diversity Abroad
- Social Identity Wheel Overview and Framing Material
- Supporting Diversity
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Introduction
- Power and Privilege Introduction
- What’s Your Identity?
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
For Black students:
- Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales: African American Perspectives
- Understanding Discrimination in a Global Context
For Asian/Pacific Island American students:
For Hispanic/Latino American students:
For Native American students:
- Her own way – a woman’s safe travel guide
- What to Wear Archives
- Tips about appropriate clothing for women when traveling to certain destinations
- Vanderbilt Project Safe
- 24/7 resources and support for anyone experiencing sexual harassment and/or intimate partner violence
- The Guide to Solo Woman Travel
For LGBTQIA+ students:
- International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)
- Provides a country-by-country analysis of attitudes and laws regarding LGBTQ+ people
- The website of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s European chapter; provides multiple resources, including a Guide to Europe
- LGBTI Travel Information
- US State Department resources for LGBT+ travelers
- An online guide to Asia-Pacific gay and lesbian resources, including legal and cultural information as well as links to country-specific resources.
- If you have a smartphone and are traveling within the U.S. or Europe, you can download the REFUGE Restroom app to help you locate gender inclusive restrooms.
For disability and special needs:
- Mobility International USA
- Provides a wealth of information on disclosure of disabilities, disability accommodations in an international context, negotiating accommodations internationally, things to think about in taking a service animal abroad, and more.
- Travelers with Disabilities
- CDC source of information, provides external resources for travelers with disabilities and recommendations for proper planning
- Bidirectional Exchange in Global Health: Moving Toward True Global Health Partnership
- Global health educational trips: ethical, equitable, environmental?
- Decolonizing Global Health Education: Rethinking Institutional Partnerships and Approaches
- Exploring the Significance of Bidirectional Learning for Global Health Education
- How Do We Decolonize Global Health in Medical Education
- Bidirectional Exchanges of Medical Students Between Institutional Partners in Global Health Clinical Education Programs: Putting Ethical Principles into Practice
- Beyond Visas and Vaccines: Preparing Students for Domestic and Global Health Engagement
- Role of E-Learning in Teaching Health Research Ethics and Good Clinical Practice in Africa and Beyond
- The International Partner as Invited Guest: Beyond Colonial and Import–Export Models of Medical Education
- Decolonizing global health research: A checklist for equity
- Advancing equitable global health research partnerships in Africa
- African languages to get more bespoke scientific terms (News Article)
- North-South research partnerships: the ethics of carrying out research in developing countries
- Neo-colonialism and research collaboration in Central Africa
- Promotion and Reporting of Research from Resource-Limited Settings
- Scientific collaboration (Book Chapter)
- Research colonialism still plagues Africa
- Towards fair and effective North–South collaboration: realising a programme fordemand-driven and locally led research
- Approaches and impact of non-academic research capacity strengthening training models in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review
- Navigating the violent process of decolonisation in global health research: a guideline
- Africa should set its own health-research agenda
- Global health research needs more than a makeover
- Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science
- Ethical Challenges in Short-Term Global Health Training (includes scenarios and case studies to consider)
- Making a Commitment to Ethics in Global Health Research Partnerships: A Practical Tool to Support Ethical Practice
- Scientific Imperialism: If They Won’t Benefit from the Findings, Poor People in the Developing World Shouldn’t Be Used in Research
- Knowledge, moral claims and the exercise of power in global health
- Global Health: Training Ethics and Best Practice Guidelines for Training Experiences in Global Health
- Conference equity in global health: a systematic review of factors impacting LMIC representation at global health conferences
- An ethics-based approach to global health research part 1: Building partnerships in global health
- Beyond Medical “Missions” to Impact-Driven Short-Term Experiences in Global Health (STEGHs): Ethical Principles to Optimize Community Benefit and Learner Experience
- Ethics and best practice guidelines for training experiences in global health
- What Are the Ethical Issues Facing Global-Health Trainees Working Overseas? A Multi-Professional Qualitative Study
- Packing ethics into medical students’ global health trips
- Bioethics and practical justice in the post-COVID-19 era
- Qualitative Analysis of the Host-Perceived Impact of Unidirectional Global Surgery Training in Kijabe, Kenya: Benefits, Challenges, and a Desire for Bidirectional Exchange
- Global surgery in the 21st century: The voice from Africa – We need a new model
- Global Surgery Pro–Con Debate: A Pathway to Bilateral Academic Success or the Bold New Face of Colonialism?
- Research imperialism resurfaces in South Africa in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – this time, via a digital portal
- Global Health Education in the Time of COVID-19: An Opportunity to Restructure Relationships and Address Supremacy
- Addressing power asymmetries in global health: Imperatives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Opinion: How COVID Reveals The Hypocrisy OfThe Global Health ‘Experience’ (News Article)
- Decolonizing Global Health in the Era of COVID-19 Conference – Resource Document
- The Relationship between Cultural Tightness–Looseness and Covid-19 Cases and Deaths: A Global Analysis
- Host community perspectives on trainees participating in short-term experiences in global health
- Perceptions and Expectations of Host Country Preceptors of Short-Term Learners at Four Clinical Sites in Sub-Saharan Africa
- How medical tourism is affecting Africa’s healthcare economy (Opinion Article)
- The aid sector must do more to tackle its white supremacy problem (News Article)
- Power in International Politics
- A Few Minor Adjustments: A Handbook for Volunteers
- Attitude toward Cultural Difference–from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism
- Cultural Differences and Cultural Understanding
- Culture Matters: The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook
- Cultural Adjustment: Managing Stress and Coping Abroad
- Cultural Humility: A Way of Thinking to Inform Practice Globally
- Cultural Competency Module
- Trust and Cultural Humility
- Cultural Humility is the First Step to Becoming Global Care Providers
- Cultural Humility in the Care of Individuals Who Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer
- Cultural Humility and the Importance of Long-Term Relationships in International Partnerships
- Health Care Providers’ Perspectives of Providing Culturally Competent Care in the NICU
- Beyond Culture
- Differences between tight and loose cultures: a 33-nation study
- Resilient Traveling
- Closing the door on Parasites and Parachutes
- Regional and international research collaboration and citation impact in selected sub-Saharan African countries in the period 2000 to 2019
- Authorship in paediatric research conducted in low- and middle-income countries: parity or parasitism?
- Parasitic and parachute research in global health
- Neo-colonial science by the most industrialised upon the least developed countries in peer-reviewed publishing
- Power, potential, and pitfalls in global health academic partnerships: review and reflections on an approach in Nepal
- Who is telling the story? A systematic review of authorship for infectious disease research conducted in Africa, 1980–2016
- Equity in global health research in the new millennium: trends in first-authorship for randomized controlled trials among low- and middle-income country researchers 1990-2013
- Authorship trends in The Lancet Global Health
- Stuck in the middle: a systematic review of authorship in collaborative health research in Africa,2014–2016
- Academic promotion policies and equity in global health collaborations
- Local and foreign authorship of maternal health interventional research in low- and middle-income countries: systematic mapping of publications 2000–2012
- Global health 2021: who tells the story?
- Decolonizing Data Viz
- ‘The data is gold, and we are the gold-diggers’: whiteness, race and contemporary academic research in eastern DRC
- An ethics-based approach to global health research part 4: Scholarship and publications
- Knowledge sharing in global health research–the impact, uptake and cost of open access to scholarly literature
- The foreign gaze: authorship in academic global health
- Author-Reviewer Homophily in Peer Review
- Regional and international research collaboration and citation impact in selected sub-Saharan African countries in the period 2000 to 2019
- This Congolese Doctor Discovered Ebola But Never Got Credit For It — Until Now
- ‘My Flight Arrives at 5 Am, Can You Pick Me up?’: The Gatekeeping Burden of the African Academic
- Binyavanga Wainaina Tells Us ‘How To Write About Africa’
More Resources to Discover
- Consortium of Universities for Global Health (Decolonizing Global Health)
- Duke Decolonizing Global Health Working Group
- Duke Global Health Institute (Decolonizing Global Health)
- Global Health Matters Podcast
Get involved in decolonizing global health at Vanderbilt!
Become part of the undergraduate initiative to increase equity in global health .
What is decolonizing global health?
- Decolonizing global health is a broad concept that includes fostering cultural humility and improving equity in health and beyond. Many colonial legacies and inequalities persist today; the Global North has significantly more power and resources than the Global South, and the Global South, along with many cultural and racial/ethnic minorities, are marginalized and disempowered in various ways. These considerations must be taken into account when engaging in global health work and traveling abroad.
Our goals within the Vanderbilt community are:
- to raise awareness about the effects of a Western-centric view on research and global health
- to help each other reflect on our own positionality in the health field and develop more equitable approaches to health
For a more detailed overview with several resources, check out our Undergraduate Global Health Manual.
The Decolonizing Global Health initiative aims to raise awareness about the inequalities and Western-centric beliefs in global health and to encourage self-reflection and the use of sustainable methods to address these issues. Ultimately, we hope all undergraduates interested in health professions can reflect on their own positionality and bring a mindset of cultural humility and commitment to equity in all endeavors.
So far, we have developed a curriculum with key concepts and considerations we want to convey that can be adapted to help any group traveling abroad. We have adapted the curriculum into a condensed interactive workshop, “Traveling Abroad With Cultural Humility,” which was presented to the Vanderbilt Pre-Medical Society for their spring break trip to Guatemala in spring 2022. We have recorded this workshop and other modules at the top of this webpage so anyone can use it as a guide to lead workshops for different groups. Additionally, we have compiled our resources on this webpage and in this Google folder so anyone can learn more about decolonizing global health and add their own information.
We are now working to distribute these resources around campus to reach undergraduate students. We have prioritized outreach to health organizations that go on trips abroad, but we are also developing partnerships with other health-related student organizations and any student group that might benefit from our resources and workshops. Our goal is to assist these organizations however they feel is best and to promote cultural humility and a decolonial mindset for the long-term, whether that entails hosting educational events, inviting guest speakers from VUMC, promoting their activities, or supporting their members’ research and equity initiatives.
Here is more information on how this initiative came about.
For traveling groups: our workshops will be most directly helpful as a pre-departure guide that your members reflect on before you leave for your trip. We can lead the workshop, you can show our recorded video(s), or you could lead your own workshop(s) based on our curricula outlines, the resources on this webpage, and any other resources you find or experiences you have.
For anyone interested in global health: You can use these resources for events and research of your own (e.g., for classes, publications, experiments, presentations, conferences, internships, discussions), we can provide speaker contact information, and/or we can host an interactive workshop around this topic. The possibilities are endless!
For anyone who works with equity issues but not for health: we believe decolonizing global health is inherently part of the larger conversation around decolonizing our global society and increasing social equity, and these resources can provide additional frameworks for promoting equity and support students interested in health. Integrating these health resources with broader equity ones can especially support and empower students interested in health from historically marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds.
Share your voice: If you would like to share feedback, ideas, people to contact, or contribute in any way, please email Dr. Elizabeth Rose or Teresa Xu. We appreciate all insights and are always trying to improve this initiative! See “How to Lead This Initiative” below if you’re interested in spearheading this initiative.
Anyone is welcome to take on this initiative and continue shaping it!
To continue leading this initiative, it would be best to ensure that these organizational partnerships are still in place, to continue making students aware of this initiative, and to expand our partnerships as applicable. Please do read our Undergraduate Global Health Manual to get up to speed.
However, you are welcome to take this initiative in any direction you like. The goal is to help Vanderbilt develop an increasingly equitable and decolonial culture, and that can be accomplished in so many ways.
Here are some other ideas for developing and expanding this initiative:
- Conference: This initiative was originally conceptualized as a conference that brought together researchers, practitioners, and students from all over the world; however, we decided to focus more on building momentum on campus to make it a sustainable, long-term initiative. That said, it would be wonderful to see this initiative expand to include a conference after we’ve increased our voice on campus. For more advice on organizing a conference, contact Ike Obi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Study abroad: You could collaborate with the Global Education Office to provide pre-departure materials for all study abroad programs. Although the students may not be engaging with health, cultural humility is important for all interactions with diverse groups. You could also collaborate with other offices on campus, e.g., the SCSJI, LGBTQIA+ office, Black Cultural Center, Women’s Center, etc.
- Academic collaboration: You could assemble specific resources or a lesson plan for faculty to use in their classes (especially if they aren’t already teaching about the problematic history of our health practices). You could even try to influence curriculum standards in a department. Departments of interest include MHS, Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, health-related classes in foreign languages (Spanish, French, etc.), and more.
- Examples of faculty trying to integrate non-white voices: Richard Lloyd in Sociology teaches about W.E.B. Du Bois in his class on Sociological Perspectives (SOC 3001), and Emerson Bodde in Philosophy teaches about Confucius and Asian philosophy in an Introduction to Ethics course (PHIL 1005).
- Many MHS faculty are interested in equity and may have more resources: Laura Stark, Dominique Behague, Abelardo Moncayo, Jonathan Metzl, and more
- Guest speaker events: You could invite guest lecturers onto campus (either in person or via Zoom) to share expertise on this topic. This could be in classes (both health and non-health related), as part of student organization events, or catered to the broader community (similar to a VPB speaker event or the Chancellor lecture series).
- Collaboration with VUMC staff: Dr. Elizabeth Rose has done significant research on this topic. Angela Paolucci and Ann Green have had experiences abroad and have much wisdom to share.
- Committees within student organizations: We originally envisioned a committee within MEDLIFE to work on this project and flesh out pre-departure materials and discussions for MEDLIFE. This approach can still work, depending on interest from student organizations. It could also be an opportunity to present all 5 modules and delve deeper into these subtopics instead of a single condensed workshop.
- Formalizing the workshop: We had envisioned holding regular training workshops on this topic, modeled after Bystander Intervention Training, Pride Training, and Unconscious Bias Training workshops at Vanderbilt. A potential next step could be to make the workshop more formal/standardized so it can be a part of different programs beyond student organization trips, even for staff (i.e., there could be a required viewing to attain a certification).
- Global collaboration: You could collaborate with researchers in other countries, especially in formerly colonized places like Africa, Latin America, and Asia, to host workshops, offer guest lectures/speaker events, and do whatever they find helpful. VIGH can help identify researchers; please reach out to Dr. Elizabeth Rose.
- Expanding beyond short-term trips: it would be great to cover other aspects of decolonizing global health, including promoting broader equity principles, how to develop long-term research partnerships, etc.
Have a resource to add? Please email Elizabeth