Graduate students develop cross-cutting skills and mobilize towards a common goal while working with MSF
Each year, MSc Global Health graduate students complete a work-integrated learning practicum during the Summer term to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout the duration of their studies at McMaster University. Students work with different organizations to gain hands-on experience with the theory, concepts, and methods taught in the program with activities targeted to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the past 10-weeks, graduate students, Jenna Lazarou and Rachel Housser, had the opportunity to complete their practicums virtually with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
With a focus on a project titled Climate Change and Gender under the Humanitarian Action on Climate and Environment (HACE) – a collaborative initiative that applies a climate change lens to its humanitarian work – they have been engaged in various areas of research.
By conducting an analysis of women’s voices from the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, Jenna is providing a summary of findings on the lack of women’s representation in the field to improve the integration of women during climate change decisions. In preparation for the upcoming 2022 UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, Rachel is developing several country profiles to provide a summary of the climate situation and humanitarian impacts within the various regions.
Additionally, Jenna is engaged in research to analyze the correlation between the impacts of climate change and gender in Chad. “Much of the research reports women experiencing an increased risk of gender-based violence following climate change-related events”, states Jenna, “as women and girls are forced to walk unfamiliar territories in search of scarce resources, which leads to increased vulnerability.”
When asked about the Global Health program competencies they have been developing, both responded that international collaboration, cross-cultural intuition, and incisive decision making were among the top. In fact, Rachel expresses “the international collaboration has been one of the most inspirational parts of working with MSF as the possibilities seem limitless when you see just how many people can be mobilized towards a common goal.”
As future global health professionals, they reflected that the course work throughout the program allowed them to apply the skills learned in a real-world setting. Rachel remarked that, “seeing the application in a real-world setting made me even more grateful for choosing the Global Health program”. Working with peers and supervisors that are involved in various global health projects has been ‘truly eye-opening’, says Jenna, as this has broadened her knowledge of the various positions in global health and enhanced her learning experience.
Interested to hear about their future and aspirations as global health professionals, we asked them and here is what they had to say:
“I have always had a passion to support women’s health globally, thus being able to further develop my knowledge regarding gender inequities from a climate perspective was beyond interesting and eye-opening! One particular aspect that inspired me was understanding the various ways women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change-related events.” – Jenna
“I pull a great deal of inspiration from seeing the needs-based assessments, capacity building and climate considerations that MSF makes integral to ensuring that their humanitarian aid is sustainable, ethical, and contextually relevant. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field, as I was given the chance to work within the global health field with a focus on human health but also planetary health; I was able to take a passion from my personal life, zero waste living, something I once reserved as a hobby, and incorporate it into my academic focus of health and medicine.” – Rachel
Through transcontinental opportunities with organizations such as MSF, students enhance their analytical, networking, and collaborative skills within a self-directed learning environment all while gaining hands-on global health experience for careers in a globalized world.Global Health News