Member Spotlight: Child Family Health International

February 24, 2020

Leaders in the fields of international education, higher education, and community engagement participated in the 2nd annual Faculty Development Workshop, hosted by Child Family Health International (CFHI). Photo credit: CFHI

Integrating Experiential Education into the Classroom through Faculty Development

How Child Family Health International is leading the way in rethinking global health education

Students are seeking Global Health experiences more than ever. But how do faculty and administrators train the next generation of global health leaders to think ethically about this immersion? Those answers start with rethinking global health education. Child Family Health International (CFHI) is leading the way with a framework for how faculty can incorporate ethical and safe global health education into coursework and programs.

To guide faculty in best practices, CFHI and partners host an interactive Faculty Development Workshop in Costa Rica. The week-long program helps faculty and their administrative colleagues gain essential ‘how-to’s’ of integrating experiential learning experiences into the classroom.  This includes a broad set of topics covering the logistical, financial, ethical, safety, assessment/evaluation, competency-based education aspects, as well as diversity and inclusion and how to make these experiences accessible to all students.

Not only does the Workshop teach best practices, it provides a forum for faculty and administrators to network, to connect with experts in various areas of academia and education, to think through ethical dilemmas and to encourage peer-to-peer learning while immersing themselves in the local communities in southeastern Costa Rica.

Started in 2019, the Workshop is a collaboration of the Interamerican Center for Global Health, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, Allegheny College, the Working Group on Global Activities by Students at Pre-Health Levels and other leaders in the fields of international education, higher education, and community engagement.

“This Workshop allows us to dedicate ourselves to the purpose of rethinking best practices in global health education. By the end of the week, we feel like family and continue to support each other as we take what is learned and apply it throughout coursework which results in real impacts,” said CFHI Executive Director, Jessica Evert, MD.

Improving Global Health Starts in the Classroom

Participants in the CFHI Faculty Development Workshop had an opportunity to immerse themselves in local communities in southeastern Costa Rica. Photo credit: CFHI

At the heart of the Workshop is how to better prepare students who plan to participate in international global health immersions. While many training opportunities exist for students, very few are dedicated to faculty even as demands for experiential education have grown.

As a leader in global health education programs, CFHI advocates for quality, ethical, safety standards that promote sustainable, locally-led, systems-based interventions aimed at improving health and wellness worldwide. The Workshop embodies best practices of global health education and puts the mission of the organization into practice. This is even more imperative as numerous examples of unethical voluntourism and medical malpractice have come to light recently involving untrained medical students providing harmful care abroad.

“We believe in aligning with organizations who believe in asset-based learning, an approach  that presents global health realities through authentic experiences that help shape and transform young people who are interested in global health, equity, and global citizenship. By working with local health practitioners and patients as the ‘local experts,’ global health education doesn’t reinforce the neocolonial narrative that has led to many global health disparities in the past.” said Dr. Evert.

CFHI not only encourages faculty to rethink global health education, it provides a variety of programs for students to immerse themselves in experiential learning. The organization offers 40+ global health programs within 12 countries, designed to teach students ethically about global health within the scope of safe, rigorous service-learning. Applications for 1-16+ week programs are accepted on a rolling basis.

For Faculty interested in learning more about decolonized approaches to engagement and program execution, consider participating in the 2021 Faculty Development Workshop next January 2 – 9. There are also numerous opportunities throughout the year to bring best practices into the classroom through academic partnership engagements. For more information, visit


This post was written by Koren Temple Perry, Associate Director of Outreach at CFHI. Founded in 1992, Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a United Nations-recognized standard-setting non-profit organization providing Global Health Education Programs, Research and Thought Leadership. CFHI provides Field Experiences for graduate, undergraduate, and post-graduate students in 12 countries.  CFHI is recognized for our ethical and authentic approach highlighting sustainable global health interventions including locally-led health and social service systems.