- Malawi Project,
- global health education,
- interprofessional education,
- health law
For the past four years, the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) has sent an interprofessional team of students to Malawi in Southern Africa to research a complex global health issue with local counterparts. Students and faculty members from the six UMB schools participated in each of the six-week summer projects. The initiative — now known as the Malawi Project — started with a big idea: to use the funds we had for individual travel grants to create a single global health learning experience for students from all the schools on campus. Like most big ideas, we had only the faintest idea of what we were getting into and what the outcomes would be.
Now, four years into the process of fulfilling our big idea, we have a much richer understanding of the life-changing benefits and complex challenges of developing interprofessional global health learning activities. We have also come to understand the scholarly gaps that need filling in terms of how to structure these activities with a greater degree of purposefulness and rigor. As the law school advisor for the Malawi Project, I have been in the unique position to conceptualize and operationalize the participation of law students in global health education. This essay is a reflection on the “why” and “how” of creating an interprofessional global health project, with specific focus on the challenges of incorporating law students into this type of educational activity.