The Global Health Program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic offers students the opportunity to live with a homestay family, complete a qualitative research project as part of a cross-cultural team, and participate in community rotations and workshops related to holistic medicine.

In collaboration with Cornell's Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR), a Dominican natural healing center (ANDA: Asesoría Nutricional para el Desarrollo Armónico), and the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), the Global Health Program in the Dominican Republic offers students a unique socio-cultural lens to study historical and contemporary aspects of health systems and public health in the Dominican context.

The GH Summer Program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has three main components:

  1. Qualitative research methods, coursework and research;
  2. Cultural and language immersion; and
  3. Paradigms of health and healing.

Qualitative Research Methods, Coursework, and Research

Cornell students collaborate with Dominican students on qualitative research projects related to community and public health. The projects are conducted through the guiding framework of a qualitative research methods course taught in Spanish at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD). The course delves into the fundamentals of qualitative and sociological research and ethnographic practices, equipping students with the tools and skills needed to conduct a research project in the Dominican context. The course also grapples with epistemology and the use of knowledge for social transformation.

Cultural and Language Immersion

Students live with local homestay families and are fully immersed in Dominican everyday life in the barrio, learning about food, music, language, and culture. Students are engaged in the Simon Bolívar neighborhood for the duration of their stay in the DR and participate in cultural events and travel. Students are challenged to take advantage of their “free time” by practicing Spanish with their host families or exploring the Colonial Zone and parks in groups.

Paradigms of Health and Healing

Socio-cultural, political and economic theories are central to students' experiential learning in the DR as the program offers opportunities to explore various health-related issues in the Dominican context. Particularly in considering questions such as: How have social inequalities led to health disparities in the Dominican Republic? How are physical health and emotional wellbeing connected? How do popular remedies reflect cultural understanding and ancestral knowledge? How do physicians from Western and non-Western traditions treat certain conditions? What are the discrepancies in health care among Dominicans, Haitians, and Dominicans of Haitian descent? The GH program in the DR fosters a focus on different themes each year depending on student interest, with a constant thread how human rights and how they relate to health care, community health care, and traditional healing.

Students participate in three retreats throughout the summer and other critical reflection exercises, both in Spanish and English, to practice critical and creative thinking. Topics include integrating holistic healing, Dominican culture, types of service learning, knowledge production, alternative medicine, community health, and human rights. Students are exposed to a holistic healing model where one's body, soul and mind are considered as parts of a connected whole.

Applications for Summer 2019 are now open! Start a new application here.

What is the cost of the program?

The cost of the program will be approximately $7,000. This includes Cornell tuition (4 credits), airfare, room and board, meals, retreats, in-country transportation, Visa, immunizations and personal expenses.

Where would I live? 

Students live with home stay families during their 8 weeks in Santo Domingo, DR. Family homes are comfortable, with western toilets, showers, sinks and laundry access. Not all DR homes are equipped with AC; however, all homes have water access and limited electricity throughout the day.

Are there any prerequisites for this program? 

Yes - all students must have taken NS 2600: Introduction to Global Health to participate in this program, and they should have an elementary/intermediate level of proficiency in the Spanish language. The entire program is conducted in Spanish; therefore, student applicants are expected to be comfortable with the Spanish language and have ideally completed at least one semester of Spanish while in college.

Moreover, once applicants have been accepted into the DR program, all participants must plan to enroll in a mandatory 1-credit pre-departure seminar (NS 4620) in the spring to prepare for their summer abroad.

Who should I contact if I have more questions? 

Please contact Tim Shenk (, Jeanne Moseley ( or Jenny DiPietro ( to learn more.