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Healing the World: An Online Program in Women’s Global Health Leadership

The First Academic Program Built from the Values of Bedside RNs

Brief Description

National Nurses United is offering an online certificate program in Global Women’s Health Leadership at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The certificate program was designed by the NNU Education Department and courses will be taught NNU educators. Because Rutgers University is accredited, course credit will fulfill general education requirements at most universities and colleges throughout the country.

This academic program is the first ever built from the values of bedsides nurses: compassion for the world’s sick and suffering, a single-standard of care for all people, just distribution of life’s basic necessities, equal opportunities to fulfill our human potential, and commitment to building solidarity with all who share these core values. Students will come to understand patient advocacy as advocacy for humanity. Through this program of courses, NNU continues our work to create a world more aligned with RN values.

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The Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University

NNU is collaborating with the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) at Rutgers University because it is an internationally renowned consortium of academic-activist centers. The IWL is distinguished for providing leadership training to some of the world’s most formidable women leaders and is considered one of the best research institutes on women in the country. Programs at the IWL include the Center for American Women and Politics, the Institute for Research on Women, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and the Center for Women and Work. The Rutgers’ Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is also part of this consortium.

Courses

A significant advantage of online coursework is great flexibility. Online students are not required to attend classes on the Rutgers campus. In consultation with instructors, you can complete coursework wherever you are, on flexible timelines, and at any time of the day or night.

NNU courses will engage nurses and other community members in conversations about vital issues related to health and healthcare: economic inequality, climate change and other environmental crises; famine; epidemics; corporate healthcare providers and the consumer-driven healthcare model; health information technology; global health governance; international trade agreements; nurse migration; private pharmaceutical research, production, and distribution; commodity food speculation; genetic modification of living organisms; privatization of public resources and services; cuts in spending on social programs; human rights; and women’s movements for health around the world.

Courses examine the social, economic, political, and environmental forces that are contributing to worsening health and precarious existence in all regions of the world. Courses investigate the relationship between international economic policies and the delivery of healthcare globally. Particular attention is given to health disparities among different groups of women within and across nations, such as the concentration of infant and maternal mortality among low-income peoples, and growing rates of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Individual courses consider the effects of national debt, trade agreements, export agriculture programs, structural adjustment policies, and environmental depletion on nutrition and health. Courses consider the costs and consequences of women’s health problems, ranging from direct costs of care to the social and economic consequences for women, their families and communities. In addition, courses provide an overview of women’s international health activism and the mobilization of social and economic rights discourses as mechanisms to address health challenges in the twenty-first century.

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The program is offering the following two courses for Spring Semester 2014 (January–May):

Health Consequences of Global Trade in Pharmaceuticals

Multinational pharmaceutical companies remain the primary developers of new drug regimens. The health effects of drug research and development, however, vary markedly from one region of the world to another. This course explores the political economy of the global pharmaceutical industry, analyzing the distribution of burdens and benefits. It examines ethical issues, such as clinical trials on populations in the Global South; continuing sales of drugs across the Global South after they have been banned in the global North; disproportionate investment in drugs for minor health problems while serious diseases affecting the poor remain insufficiently studied; inadequate vaccine development and manufacture; restrictions on the distribution of life–saving generic drugs in third world countries; overuse of antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the role of pharmaceutical lobbying in influencing healthcare within particular nations.

Gendered Professions and the Transnational Care Economy

Nursing lies at the heart of the “care economy.” Involving work that requires intensive physical labor, person-to-person communication, and spatial proximity, the intimate nature of care work resists mechanization. In contrast to the production of commodities, the highly personalized labor of care is driven by human need rather than profit maximization. In nursing, skill entails the effective exercise of professional judgment. Focused on the cultivation and preservation of human capacities, this professional labor resists routinization and automation. The course explores recent efforts to heighten the profit-making potential of the care economy, and it considers the long-term implications of efforts to deskill and outsource care work.

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Future course offerings will include:

Global Women’s Health Movements

This course identifies the global institutions and policies that most impact health globally. Students will discern how women’s non-governmental organizations have attempted to transform existing institutions and policies of global health governance such that people everywhere can lead healthier and more dignified lives. The course begins by detailing the colossal global health problematic to which women’s health movements respond, encouraging students to forge new ground by drawing connections among institutions of global governance and women’s health. The course culminates with a close examination of tactics utilized by women’s organizations around the world to social and economic conditions that attempt to actualize the dictum that healthcare is a human right, as stated in numerous international human rights instruments.

The Growth Imperative, Global Ecology, and Women’s Health

In the last quarter century, the premise of the possibility of endless growth for the purpose of unlimited capital accumulation has met the inevitable challenges of resource exhaustion on a global scale and its human consequences. Markets and technological innovation are inadequate to solve the resulting environmental crises. Health consequences include illness caused by toxic industrial byproducts, injury from resource extraction processes such as nuclear fission and deep–water oil drilling, manifold health hazards of violent conflict over control of scarce resources in postcolonial states, and dangers that attend climate change. This course will address externalized business costs paid in the currency of human health.

Impacts of Economic Inequality on Women’s Health

Domestic and global economic inequality place significant numbers of people at high risk for health crises even as they are denied access to care. This course investigates the “pathogenic” aspects of economic inequality. It examines how systems of unequal resource distribution contribute to wide disparities of health risk, access to healthcare, and clinical outcomes. It explores how global trade and transnational migration affect health costs, healthcare delivery systems, and the availability of healthcare professionals. By tracing links between macro-economic policies and access to healthcare, the course analyzes pathologies suffered by individual women in the context of structural violence.

Debt, Crisis, and Women’s Health

Growing national debt has become a feature of increasing numbers of nations over the past 60 years, heightening dependence on international financial institutions and restricting the sphere of freedom of national policy makers. Healthcare provision has been subjected to severe cuts as nations struggle to meet their debt obligations and stabilize their economies. Framing ongoing global economic crisis as a consequence of excess rather than scarcity, this course unsettles the conventional moral calculus of credit and debt, exploring the relationship between debt and economic crisis, and examining the impacts of austerity policies on women’s health. Austerity refers to policies that reduce public benefits and services, such as healthcare and education, meant to force countries into meeting their debt obligations. Comparing experiences of nations in various regions of the world, the course considers the effects of continued borrowing to pay debt interest on humanitarian concerns. In particular, the course analyzes who suffers for the sake of debt repayment and the magnitude of that gendered suffering in highly leveraged societies.

Gendered Health Impacts of Structural Adjustment Programs

Since the 1980s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have conditioned loans to poor countries on implementation of economic policy requirements known collectively as structural adjustment. Structural adjustment refers to policies that quite literally adjust the infrastructure of a country in an attempt to oblige that country to meet its debt obligations by requiring that it subscribe to a particular model of economic growth and development. Liberalizing trade, increasing export manufacturing, shifting from subsistence to export-oriented agriculture, and privatizing national assets and industries have all been hallmarks of structural adjustment policies. This course considers the gendered health effects of structural adjustment. It investigates why women are over-represented among those most negatively affected by cuts in public services, how their caretaking burdens increase and their paid employment decreases disproportionately with privatization. Comparing experiences in the global South with more recent developments in the European Union, this course provides a gendered analysis of the global health impacts of structural adjustment programs.

Health Consequences of Global Trade in Food Commodities

Close to one billion people suffer from malnutrition and many more from food deprivation in the twenty-first century. As neoliberal trade policies have restructured national economies, new speculation in global commodities markets has limited access to food by the poor. This course investigates shifting modes of food production as local practices of subsistence agriculture have been replaced by export agriculture and global commodities markets. The course compares the consequences of these changes for women as consumers in the global North as well as for women as producers of subsistence in the global South. Examining impacts of global commodities markets on food distribution, diet, and health, the course also analyzes the health effects of the creation of consumer markets for processed foods.

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Registering for Courses

Current and upcoming courses will be updated on this website. If you are interested in taking a course offered during the spring semester, or have any other questions about course offerings and program enrollment, please contact the Women's Global Health Leadership Program by email at: WGHL@NationalNursesUnited.org before December 15th, 2013. Please check back for a schedule of current and future course offerings.

Tuition and Scholarship Opportunities

Tuition for courses is currently $2,839. National Nurses United is in the process of negotiating tuition rates with Rutgers. We will offer a limited number of scholarships each term to NNU members interested in building global solidarity with those who share RN values of caring, compassion, and community.

To apply for a scholarship, email WGHL@NationalNursesUnited.org

Certificate Requirements

Earning a Women’s Global Health Leadership Certificate will require completion of seven courses offered online through Rutgers’ Pearson eCollege.

Please continue to check back for more updates on requirements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why would nurses be interested in online coursework in Women’s Global Health Leadership?

Have you ever wondered how your role as a patient advocate extends beyond the bedside and into your community? How a society built on RN values of caring, compassion, and community might look? How nursing relates to some of the most pressing social and economic issues of our time, such as extreme poverty, climate change, and famine? Who really decides who lives and who dies? How nurses like you have begun to organize to heal the world, to transform human desperation into human dignity?

The courses will engage nurses and other community members in conversations about vital issues related to health and healthcare: economic inequality; climate change and other environmental crises; famine; epidemics; failures of the consumer-driven healthcare model; how health information technology is changing healthcare; corporate healthcare providers; global health governance; international trade agreements; nurse migration; impacts of private pharmaceutical companies on drug research and distribution; commodity food speculation: genetically-modified organisms; privatization of public resources and services; cuts in spending on social programs; human rights; and women’s movements for health around the world. Through the certificate program, students will come to understand patient advocacy as advocacy for humanity.

What are the advantages of online courses?

Are you worried that college coursework will take too much time away from your already busy schedule? Are you wondering how you can possibly make time for reading and assignments while working twelve-hour shifts and picking your kids up from school? A significant advantage of online coursework is great flexibility. In consultation with your instructor, you can complete the coursework on a flexible timeline, wherever you are, and at any time of the day or night. Nurses wishing to take courses do not need to be Rutgers students.

Online education enables NNU to communicate the point of view of bedside nurses to anyone anywhere in the world. Just when NNU’s campaign for a Robin Hood tax is becoming global, the NNU will be able to reach thousands of nurses and other community members nationally and internationally. Offering courses online allows NNU to strengthen alliances with people and organizations that support our fight for universal healthcare and a more equitable distribution of resources in the United States and around the world. As NNU goes global, building alliances and community with all who share RN values is becoming increasingly important.

Who teaches the courses?

Courses are taught by NNU Educators.

Why did NNU choose to work with the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University?

Because Rutgers University is accredited, course credit will fulfill general education requirements at most universities and colleges throughout the country.

NNU is collaborating with Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) because it is an internationally renowned consortium of academic-activist centers. The IWL is distinguished for providing leadership training to some of the world’s most formidable women’s leaders. Programs at the IWL include the Center for American Women and Politics, the Institute for Research on Women, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and the Center for Women and Work. The Rutgers Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is also a part of this consortium.

Significantly, the IWL has relationships with many international activist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have been active in the fight for a Robin Hood tax, a campaign NNU has spearheaded in the United States. Many of these NGOs, based in the global South (a term used to refer collectively to the poorest regions in the world), share the values that animate NNU’s Nurses Campaign to Heal America. Many were founded on the belief that activists must link their struggles for health and healthcare to greater public spending on education and social programs; sufficient earning power to avoid deprivation of food, nutrition, and shelter; female literacy; women’s equality; and respect for social, economic, political, and civil rights. Housing a certificate program at the IWL will enable NNU to forge enduring alliances with NGOs working to provide universal healthcare globally and to better humanity.

I am really interested taking courses but not sure I can afford tuition. Will NNU be offering scholarship opportunities?

Yes. National Nurses United will offer a limited number of scholarships each term to NNU members interested in building global solidarity with those who share RN values of caring, compassion, and community.

To apply for a scholarship, email WGHL@nationalnursesunited.org

Are RNs finding the courses interesting and relevant to their work at the bedside every day?

In a word, yes. NNU’s ongoing pilot certificate course, Global Women’s Health Movements, examines how women around the world facilitate change in the global institutions and policies that most impact health globally. Amber Malm, a nurse who received a scholarship, shares her valuable experience of the course: “Global Women’s Health Movements has helped to expand my outlook on health from my everyday nursing practice to look at a more global picture of healthcare. I now value healthcare as a human need imperative for survival and therefore absolutely a human right above all others. This course has broadened my knowledge of global women’s health and more importantly the lack thereof. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the disparities of global and national health policy, this course has made me feel empowered to help create change. I have learned that health cannot be separated from social and economic policy. In my practice, I have seen many nurses lose confidence in their patients due to the patients’ participation in unhealthy behaviors leading to illness. Providing care and education to change another person’s behavior proves to be very frustrating and impossible at times. This course challenged me to look at the circumstances in which individuals seek those unhealthy behaviors in hopes to better impact health.”

Another scholarship recipient, RN Jane Ivory Ernstthal, agrees about the value of the pilot course: “I have worked on a variety of global health projects in Africa and Latin America and these experiences have taught me that empowering women is central to creating sustainable change and improving global health outcomes. This class has put my personal experience in an academic context and helped me deepen my understanding of why and how women’s health movements are so valuable. It has helped me gain in depth knowledge that will help me strengthen and further the hands-on work that I do. The readings, lectures, and assignments are poignant, thoughtful, inspired, fascinating, practical, and fun. I will carry on what I have learned here in my work, life, and heart.”

How can I get more information about enrolling in courses?

Click here to request more information. Watch for continual updates on our website.

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