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 experience domestic and international cultures and to learn about health systems and 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. International immersions also provide students with crucial on-ground global public health experience that many employers seek.

Students are required to attend two immersions, one on the Simmons campus in Boston and one destination immersion, 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 will be assisted with travel arrangements and standard accommodations 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 the concept of cultural humility and other 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 July.


Ecuador: Global Health and Development

Ecuador | 2 credits
10-day immersion, including travel

Photo courtesy of ME to WE.

Taking place in the Amazon region of Ecuador, this international service-learning course focuses on global health in context. Students gain firsthand experience learning about health inequities and challenges while partnering with local communities and organizations.

Students will:

  • Examine the history of Ecuador and the cultures, traditions, struggles, and strengths of local indigenous communities.
  • Explore community challenges of obtaining and sustaining clean water and sanitation.
  • Learn about subsistence agriculture and various models of economic development in the context of global political economic arrangements.
  • Consider the impacts of climate change and other sustainability challenges.
  • Explore health and health system challenges and explore local health and healing practices.

Working alongside community partners, students will engage in an ongoing service project building sustainable infrastructure such as health and agricultural projects, schools, and water systems. Students will apply a root-cause analysis to examine the impacts of poverty 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 each January.


Southern Arizona: Border Health and Sustainability

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

Photo courtesy of ME to WE.

This experiential course invites students to the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, a short distance from the U.S.-Mexico border. 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 immigrant health and well-being.
  • Learn about local food and sustainability challenges in this arid region of the country.
  • Discover the promise of local solutions, including permaculture, seed-saving, and habitat restoration.
  • Explore native rights challenges and restorative models of development.
  • Consider the political economy and environmental health implications of extractive industry. 

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 poverty 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 each April.


Immersion Partners

MPH@Simmons is pleased to partner with ME to WE in delivering our destination immersion program in Ecuador. Students benefit from working with the internationally renowned WE Villages sustainable development model to address education, health, economic, and environmental challenges. MPH@Simmons students have the opportunity to contribute to health and development programming focused concertedly on addressing inequities nationally and globally, yielding impressive long-term outcomes. 

ME to WE creates socially conscious products and experiences that allow consumers ethical everyday choices. Half of all ME to WE profits are donated to support WE Charity, while the other half is reinvested to grow the mission of the social enterprise. ME to WE Trips provide participants with hands-on service and immersion experiences with WE Villages partner communities. ME to WE Trips also incorporate modules from the organization’s renowned leadership curriculum for social change. 

For two decades, WE Villages, a program of WE Charity, has been advancing an international development model to end poverty with a core mission of empowerment. Their goal is to help build stable, thriving communities where people have the power and dignity to support themselves. WE Villages local staff work with rural villages and regional governments to support, teach, and empower people within five Pillars of Impact: education, water, health, food, and opportunity.

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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.