The Design for Global Health Academic Program is sponsored by the University of Michigan Global Health Design Initiative and provides students with an opportunity to address global health challenges through clinical immersion and design coursework. To date, more than 100 UM undergraduate students have performed front-end design work using design ethnography methodology at hospitals in Michigan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and China since 2008.

Program Description
The program consists of pre-immersion training in the Winter 2019 term, a 4-8 week clinical immersion in Ghana, Ethiopia, or Kenya Summer 2019, and design coursework in the Fall 2019 term. During the Winter 2019 term, students study front-end design processes, complete thematic clinical readings, and learn about contextually relevant topics to prepare for their clinical immersion experience. Students then complete a 4-8 week clinical immersion over the summer where they gain practical hands-on experience identifying, defining, and/or assessing early-stage concept solutions for engineering design problems through direct interactions with healthcare providers and other stakeholders. When students return to campus in the fall semester, they enroll in design coursework (e.g., capstone design course, multidisciplinary design program course) to develop and test concept solutions using the knowledge gained during their clinical immersion work. Students in the program also have the opportunity to earn credit hours towards the Multidisciplinary Design Minor with Global Health Design Specialization or the Specialized Study Program in Global Health Design.

Information Sessions:

Thurs. Oct 25, 5:30PM, 2018 @ 3350 GG Brown Building

Mon. Oct 29, 6PM, 2018 @ PIE Space (1st Floor Shapiro)

Wed. Nov 7, 5PM, 2018 @ 3350 GG Brown Building

Thurs. Nov 8, 4PM, 2018 @ UMSI Engagement Center (above Panera)

Thurs. Jan. 24, 5PM, 2019 @ 3350 GG Brown Building



  • Minimum 2.85 GPA
  • **NEW** University of Michigan – Ann Arbor students from all schools and colleges who will have junior or senior standing in Fall 2019*
  • There is no foreign language proficiency required for this program
  • Must demonstrate an ability to exercise initiative, independence, and good judgement**

*Class standing is determined by year of study, regardless of credit hours earned. GHDI strives to create multidisciplinary teams therefore students from all disciplines and departments are encouraged to apply. Past participants have come from a wide range of academic disciplines, including engineering, nursing, anthropology, and many others.
**The clinical immersion component of this program is highly independent compared to many other international education programs.

This co-creative design program with University of Michigan and project stakeholders has three components. Please read the following information carefully to best understand program requirements.

1. Winter 2019: Pre-immersion Training and Coursework (Ann Arbor)

  • Pre-immersion design training and coursework includes:
    • Completion of front-end design coursework, either through enrollment in ME 499: Front-End Design (3 credits, typically offered every other winter term) or through the completion of a curated set of online learning blocks through the Socially Engaged Design Academy (SEDA) (http://insitu.engin.umich.edu/socially-engaged-design-academy/)
  • Completion of guided self-study of a medical specialty related to the project theme (e.g., obstetrics and gynecology, physical medicine and rehabilitation)
  • Attendance at and preparation for pre-immersion meetings about contextually relevant topics and logistics (1-2 hours/week)
    • Note: If participants join a cohort after pre-immersion meetings have commenced, they may be asked to complete make-up assignments and/or attend additional meetings with GHDI instructional staff to discuss previously covered meeting topics.
  • Students can earn up to two credit hours of ENGR 355 or 455 for the pre-immersion work they complete during the W19 semester. This credit is optional and may be distributed across future semesters.

2. Spring/Summer 2019: Clinical Immersion and Design Ethnography Experience (Field Site)

  • 4-8 week experience at a clinical field site abroad between May-August 2019
  • During the clinical immersion experience, participants will:
    • Develop and apply design ethnography skills
    • Observe and interview healthcare providers
    • Establish intercultural and interdisciplinary communication skills
    • Develop clinical literacy on a particular health care topic
    • Gain an understanding of the local and broader contexts of design
    • Define a problem and generate and/or refine user requirements and engineering specifications
    • Develop early-stage concept solutions
  • The scope of the front-end design work completed at the field site will vary by location and clinical theme, but all participants will utilize various design ethnography techniques such as formulating need statements, conducting observations and interviews, developing user requirements and engineering specifications, and performing a context assessment. General descriptions of the three most common types of projects are provided below:
    • Needs Finding (Duration: 6-8 weeks): Students perform design ethnography studies including observations, interviews, and focus groups in order to identify and define unmet clinical needs. Once identified, needs are prioritized and one or more needs are studied in depth through focused observations and interviews, benchmarking, literature review, and early-stage prototyping with the goal of defining user requirements and engineering specifications and developing preliminary concept solutions. Typically, this work is performed at a new or relatively new field site and is highly exploratory in nature.
    • Deep Dive (Duration: 4-8 weeks): Students begin their clinical immersion experience by conducting focused observations and interviews, or “deep dives”, in order to further define a select number of previously identified high priority clinical needs. Students utilize these direct interactions with stakeholders along with benchmarking, literature review, early-stage prototyping, and evaluation of relevant prior student concepts to refine and/or build upon existing user requirements and engineering specifications and develop new concept solutions. This type of project work is typically performed at an established field site that has supported previous GHDI student teams.
    • Problem-Solution Co-Evolution (Duration: 4-8 weeks): Students pursue one high priority clinical need that has been defined by previous student teams through clinical immersion and design coursework. During the clinical immersion experience, students simultaneously develop and refine both the definition of the clinical need and concept solutions informed by focused interviews and observations, while continuously iterating their analysis, synthesis, and evaluation processes between the two notional design ‘spaces’ – problem space and solution space (Dorst, Kees and Cross, Nigel (2001)). Students also explore local manufacturing capacity and processes, and other relevant implementation factors in order to inform the development of clinically-viable solutions.
  • The clinical immersion component of this program is remotely mentored by Global Health Design Initiative faculty and staff so student teams MUST exercise independence in travel.
  • Students can earn up to three credit hours of ENGR 355 or 455 for the deliverables from the clinical immersion and design ethnography experience over the summer. This credit is optional and may be distributed across future semesters.

3. Fall 2019: Design Coursework (Ann Arbor)

  • Students will enroll in design coursework to develop and test concept solutions and/or design iterations using the knowledge gained from the clinical immersion experience.
  • Students with senior standing will enroll in one of the following design courses or a suitable alternate course in Fall 2019:
    • ME450/ENGR450: Capstone Design and Manufacturing (4 credits)
    • ME455: Analytical Product Design (3-4 credits; co-listed as Desci501)
    • BME 450: Senior Capstone Design (4 credits)
    • ENGR 455: Multidisciplinary Design Program Course (3-4 credits) with permission from Global Health Design Initiative faculty.
  • Students with junior standing will enroll in 3-4 credits of ENGR 355/455: Multidisciplinary Design Program Course (3-4 credits) or a suitable alternate course (e.g., ME 390: Mechanical Engineering RISE Program) in Fall 2019 with permission from Global Health Design Initiative faculty.
  • Notes about course credits:
    • ME450/ENGR450 can be taken as an engineering technical elective.
    • ME 455 is pre-approved for mechanical engineering students astheir senior design course (major design experience).
    • Biomedical engineering students may substitute ENGR450 for their senior biomedical design course with approval from their academic advisor.
    • Non-engineering students with senior standing are eligible to enroll in ENGR450 or may choose to substitute a suitable alternate independent study course. Approval of this course is mandatory by both GHDI and a faculty member from the student’s department before acceptance into the program is finalized.
    • Students that enroll in ENGR 355/455 or a suitable alternate design course must obtain approval from GHDI instructional staff prior to enrollment.
  • Students may optionally enroll in additional design coursework to continue the project in the Winter 2020 term.

Selected students will be placed into cohorts. Each cohort will spend their clinical immersion and design ethnography experience at a specific field site with a designated clinical theme.

Potential summer 2019 field sites and clinical themes include:

Emergency Medicine (Needs Finding or Deep Dive)

  • Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital – Kumasi, Ghana

Obstetrics and Gynecology (Deep Dive or Problem-Solution Co-Evolution)

  • Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital – Kumasi, Ghana
  • Korle Bu Teaching Hospital – Accra, Ghana
  • St. Paul’s Hospital- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ophthalmology (Needs Finding)

  • St. Paul’s Hospital- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Needs Finding, Deep Dive, or Problem-Solution Co-Evolution)

  • Consolata Hospitals – Meru, Kenya
  • Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital – Kumasi, Ghana

The credit earned from this experience can count towards the Multidisciplinary Design Minor with Global Health Design Specialization. Coursework may also count toward the Specialized Study Programs in Global Health Design. However, participating students are not required to enroll in these academic programs.



Past clinical immersion experiences have ranged between $2,750-4,500 USD.


All selected students will be awarded the Global Health Design Scholarship, a competitive award established by The Papadopoulos Family Foundation, Mike and Phyllis Korybalski, and The Joseph B. And Florence V. Cejka Foundation. Global Health Design Scholars will receive up to $4,500 USD to offset clinical immersion program costs.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for additional outside funding sources to offset international travel costs. Students will be required to disclose all funding sources used to support the program.

Passports and Visa

A valid passport is required for international travel. Passports must be valid for six months after the end of the program. Information about visas will be provided after acceptance.


Priority Deadline: November 11, 2018 at 11:59PM

**EXTENDED** Final Deadline: January 30, 2019 at 11:59PM

**EXTENDED** Final Selection Decision: March 1, 2019

Interviews for priority admission will begin immediately following the priority deadline. Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered on a rolling basis until the final deadline. It is highly recommended to apply early.


Students will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations. Hostel/guesthouse, student dormitory, and/or homestay options can be recommended based on prior student experiences.

Need to Know

The clinical immersion experience is remotely mentored by the Global Health Design Initiative faculty and staff by phone, video chat, or email contact. Applicants must be comfortable with navigating a new setting and independently making decisions while at field sites. Participants will work in teams of 2-4 with other GHDI academic program and/or internship participants. Teams will be responsible for managing their time, arranging and using local accommodations and transportation, and maintaining contact with their mentors and family.

Contact Information

Please direct advising inquiries and program-specific questions to globalhealthdesign@umich.edu.

Interested in this Opportunity?

Applications for the Design for Global Health Academic Program are accepted online through MCompass. Follow this link to login and apply.

Apply for this opportunity

What to Know About The Global Health Design Initiative

Program History

Program History

GHDI has been working with stakeholders for more than eight years to identify and address global health design challenges. Learn more about our history and core values.

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Project Outcomes

Project Outcomes

Since inception, we have worked on projects in maternal health, family planning, minimally invasive surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and more. Explore our past and current projects.

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Get Involved

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved in global health work with GHDI. From taking on a need statement, to participating in an opportunity, or becoming a partner.

Learn More →