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MSU embraces virtual learning in online grad programs

February 28, 2022
<p>The MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine building on 965 Conrad Road, East Lansing. </p>

The MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine building on 965 Conrad Road, East Lansing.

Photo by Audrey Richardson | The State News

Students, parents and teachers across the world have become accustomed to online learning in the past two years, with most schools opting for virtual learning at some point during the pandemic. However, the subject has proved to be divisive throughout the country.

Some have objected to the return to in-person learning amidst safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have protested the delay to in-person learning, citing studies that have shown the detrimental effects of virtual learning on students.

In the case of Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Global Health and Graduate Certificate in Global Health programs, online learning has not been looked at as a pandemic obstacle or pandemic precaution but has been embraced as a way to allow people of all backgrounds to receive an education. 

The Master of Science in Global Health and Graduate Certificate in Global Health programs were launched two years ago, in the midst of the early pandemic, by the Institute for Global Health at MSU. Its first two graduates were graduated in the spring of 2021. 

Both programs are held online and both will result in a transcript from MSU — the Master of Science in Global Health offers a diploma from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Graduate Certificate in Global Health offers a certificate from the College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

“We decided to create an online program because we really wanted to attract a lot of international students and also students who are maybe looking for a gap year and for people who are working professionals so that they could work and then also participate in the program,” Director of the Master of Science in Global Health Program Dr. Rebecca Malouin said.

Both programs are in the process of receiving certification from Quality Matters, a nonproft organization that seeks to ensure the best practices in virtual education.

In the past two years, the programs have grown in numbers, but more substantially in diversity. 

“We now have not only pre-professional people, but we have people from different countries that have joined us, we have attorneys and obviously a number of physicians,” Associate Dean for Global Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health Dr. William Cunningham said.

Although the programs are located within the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the faculty and courses span across many different colleges and disciplines within the university, such as Veterinary Medicine, Human Medicine, Social Science, Arts and Letters, non-governmental organizations and other agencies that focus on global health.

The multidisciplinary facet is a key feature of the program, reflecting the interrelatedness and importance of human, animal and environmental health.

“When you look at the issues that are facing us globally right now, having that kind of approach, very transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary approach is how we're going to solve many of the global health problems, such as the pandemic, for example,” Malouin said.

Global health is an emerging field that focuses on the health of populations, rather than simply the health of individuals. It is dedicated to improving health and achieving equity for all people worldwide through unique approaches and toolsets. 

“Our health and the health of our nation is linked with the health of everybody else's nation,” Cunningham said.

The Master of Science in Global Health is designed to empower graduates with the tools and skills needed to address global health challenges. Students in the program will complete 30 credits in one year. 

The Graduate Certificate in Global Health consists of nine credits, all within the Master of Science in Global Health Program. 

The studies will prepare students for what by providing them with unique opportunities to learn from experienced global health practitioners and researchers in countries around the world .

“It's an investment in the future and that's how we look at global health here,” Cunningham said. “We are educating the leaders for tomorrow and helping not only the United States security, but global health security and having a continuous eye on communicable diseases.”

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