MPH@Simmons students participate in two hands-on learning opportunities called immersions that provide students with on-ground experiences examining public health issues. During immersions, students join their classmates and professors in person to learn about health systems and health equity challenges firsthand.

Immersions are an integral part of the MPH@Simmons program and provide students with unique advantages. These collaborative multiday events provide students with deep, contextualized analysis of public health challenges and offer a curriculum designed to develop leadership skills for social change. Immersive learning also provides students with transformative on-ground public health experience that many employers seek.

“This community-based experience through immersion depicted the interconnectedness of the systemic, political, economic, social, and cultural factors shaping health inequity. Being present physically in the environments we read about and hearing from community members who apply the frameworks we read about cannot be beat.”  Amanda Ngene, Class of 2019

Students are required to attend two immersions, one on the Simmons campus in Boston and one in the US-Mexico borderlands region of Arizona, for a total of three credits during their time in the program. Students are responsible for all immersion travel, program, and accommodation expenses. For the Boston immersion, students are responsible for arranging accommodations and travel. For destination immersions, students are responsible for arranging travel, and standard accommodations and on-ground logistics will be provided through our program partners.

Upcoming Immersions

Racism, Oppression, & Health

Boston | 1 credit
3-day immersion at Simmons University

This three-day immersion will take place in Boston, Massachusetts, home of Simmons University. Throughout the immersion, students will be exposed to Boston as their classroom, learning about the city’s history of race and racism and how it is reflected across the urban landscape of transportation, education, employment, health care, and other institutions.

Students will:

  • Analyze racism and other interconnected systems of inequality and oppression that shape health.
  • Explore the social construction of race and history of racism, particularly in the United States.
  • Examine how structural, institutional, personally mediated, and internalized racism shape health.
  • Engage in team and individual reflective activities to appraise their own position and privilege, assumptions, biases, and motivations.
  • Learn about collaborative models for social change.

Various tools will be used to analyze impacts of racism and oppression on health in the local context. Students will learn from local organizers, public health professionals, and advocates about ongoing local and national models of racial justice as core endeavors toward health equity.

This immersion is typically offered each October.

Southern Arizona: Border Health and Sustainability

Patagonia, Arizona | 2 credits
8-day immersion, including travel

This experiential course invites students to the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, a short distance from the U.S.-Mexico border, on traditional Tohono O’odham lands. Through various immersive experiences, students will appreciate both the challenges and promise of this unique geopolitical landscape.

Students will:

  • Examine border politics, policies and challenges, considering how these shape migrant health and well-being.
  • Explore native rights challenges and restorative models of development.
  • Consider the political economy and environmental health implications of extractive industry, and explore local food and sustainability challenges in this arid region.
  • Discover the promise of local solutions, including permaculture, seed-saving, and habitat restoration.
  • Consider educational and intersectional justice and explore one’s own potential in health equity leadership

Students will have the opportunity to learn from local community partners, examine innovative models, and engage in a hands-on service project. Students will apply a root-cause analysis to examine the impacts of historic oppressions on health and consider the importance of community-driven models of development and social justice. Finally, students will engage in a targeted curriculum on leadership for social change.

This immersion is typically offered in January and April.

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Immersion Cancellation Policy: Simmons reserves the right to cancel or reschedule immersion experiences due to weather, enrollment, or other factors that may impact the overall student experience.