Reconstructing Islam on Campus

discover islam pic


By Elizabeth Kim

Religion is not the first thing that comes to mind in college classrooms, let alone the field of global health. Mention of religion in the media and in the current presidential elections have forced it to have a negative connotation. However, discussion of different religious beliefs is necessary for students of all disciplines, especially those pursuing health-related careers, in order to understand how religion can play a role in the suffering as well as the celebration of cultures around the world. In short, religion is a significant factor underlying how individuals and communities access and practice health. With this in mind, GlobeMed at Northwestern discussed Islamophobia in a chapter meeting earlier this month.

One GlobeMed member, Sarah Khan, is taking a step further and actively working to educate the campus community on Islam and how it relates to students today. Khan is a sophomore studying pre-med and is the Treasurer of Muslim-cultural Students Association (McSA), the group hosting Discover Islam Week from Feb 15 to 19 at Northwestern University. She answered a few questions about what DIW is, and how it relates to her and other college students.

What is Discover Islam Week (DIW)?

McSA’s annual Discover Islam Week (DIW) aims to raise awareness about both Islam and the Muslim community at Northwestern during Winter Quarter. During DIW, our organization puts on firesides, speaker events, and workshops aimed at educating the Northwestern community about Islamic faith and culture. Historically, these events have revolved around areas such as spirituality, current affairs, and community building. The week’s events really bring the Muslim community on campus together to advocate and spread Islamic awareness.

Why did you get involved in DIW?

I chose to get involved with this organization and DIW to spread the most knowledge and understanding of Islam I can to those around me. McSA has given me a family to lean back on, during a time where my beliefs and values are constantly questioned. The community it provides for Muslims on campus is truly remarkable and welcoming to all who wish to learn and participate. At a time when Muslims are being openly discriminated against in the news, in politics, in schools, and in the media – it is very necessary for us, and our relative academic institutions, to step up and advocate peace, unity and inclusion.

What do you hope students get out of the DIW events, whether they are Muslim or not?

I really hope students begin to disassociate the words “Muslim”, “Islam”, and “Arab” with the negative connotations and images the media and politics have been framing. I hope students get the opportunity to not just listen to what Islam is, but understand and learn from similarities and differences. Most importantly, I hope students realize that the Muslims who are fleeing war torn countries are in fact families. They are fathers, mothers, and children; just like you and me. The further dehumanization of Muslims around the world can lead to the downfall of standards of civilized society. We hope that McSA’s small acts of advocacy can help in connecting the hearts and minds of some Americans to those who are being persecuted, but it also relies on the average student to make a choice to come to events to learn and be challenged, or to stay complacent.

How does DIW relate to your involvement in GlobeMed or your health-oriented career?

Personally, I feel compelled to lead a health-orientated career because of my faith. Providing equitable healthcare to the impoverished and underprivileged communities in need aligns closely to the basic tenets of my Islamic values. The empathetic and compassionate foundations of Islam are commonly ignored, and DIW aims to promote these values to the larger Northwestern body. Being a part of GlobeMed, I am actively thinking about the populations in need of service and what we, as university students, can do.


Check out some of the events as part of Discover Islam Week:

World Day of Social Justice 2016


“Instead of treating social justice issues as trendy news topics or points of discussion, we should acknowledge that all social justice issues deserve to be recognized and fought for.”

My name’s Camille Cooley. I’m a sophomore in SESP studying HDPS (Human Development and Psychological Services), and I’m working as the mentor for the World Day of Social Justice committee this year! Each year a GlobeMed committee plans the World Day of Social Justice, a daylong event that will take place this year on February 23rd at the Norris Student Center. The World Day of Social Justice, or more affectionately known as WDSJ, aims to promote awareness and efforts regarding issues such as poverty, exclusion, unemployment, and all other social justice issues that plague both international communities and local ones.

I worked on the WDSJ last year and found the entire process really eye-opening. Planning the event and discussing what we wanted to achieve was an opportunity for me to explore broader social justice issues on a global and campus wide scale, while becoming intimately involved with an event that would help bring awareness to our topic. I really wanted to help out this year because I knew it would be a special opportunity to foster more dialogue, give my team and I a chance to be creative, and plan a day that brings an issue we care about to light.

Grace Jing, Kathleen Clark, and Aysha Salter-Volz are the spectacular people I’m working with this year. They have come up with some pretty amazing ideas that we’re still parsing through. However, something important that we’ve been discussing recently is that social justice issues don’t just end when the media stops paying attention to them. It is always important to focus on what effects people’s lives, despite the fact that issues constantly fall off the radar when the media loses interest in telling their stories. Instead of treating social justice issues as trendy news topics or points of discussion, we should acknowledge that all social justice issues deserve to be recognized and fought for. We can move forward in making change by keeping productive dialogue open, staying educated, and bringing awareness to local and international issues through events like the WDSJ.

I am so excited for this year’s World Day of Social Justice. If you’d like to learn more or help contribute, you can contact me at

A History Of Failure: Why Global Health’s Past Is Important For Its Future

By Nida Bajwa

Anyone who has studied global health knows that the field is wrought by many many failures, and very few successes. It is easy to get discouraged from the field when analyzing the immense amount of failure and repetition of those failures in the field. However, in analyzing these failed histories perhaps we can arrive at a greater future. As students, what is our role? What do we want to achieve from our global health education? How can we take a history of failures and turn it into success?

The relationship between politics and global health is immense, and can be traced back to colonialism. The commonality that exists today is that healthcare to poor, developing countries is delivered by westerners who come in and impose their set of values upon the people, an idea borne from colonialism. In some hundreds of years, not much has changed. The white man’s burden rechanneled itself into delivery of global health around the world. Similarly, racism in America has found new channels but has not left us. To this day, America is a country with institutionalized, systematic racism. That racism is the same racism of the 1600s that began slavery, the same racism of the 1950s that spurred the civil rights movement, and the same racism that spurred the Ferguson protests just months back. Similarly, global health today is still a field that is battling with that stigma, a stigma that was embedded very deeply in our colonial history.

Sadly, global health has oft been used as a tool by those in power. Interestingly enough, the mortality rates of blacks vs. whites in hot climates served as justification for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A measure of health, associated with progress and development, thus aided in justifying a brutal system of slavery. The same determinants global health advocates use to try to do good were used to do evil. The same determinants used to grant equity in healthcare were used to justify racism, colonialism, conquest, and the lingering consequences of these institutions we are still feeling today and quite possibly will reverberate for the rest of American history. You can’t escape your colonial past, you can only work with it.

Paul Farmer, an anthropologist in the field of global health, discusses the impact of colonialism and history in an essay titled “An Anthropology of Structural Violence.” In the essay, he explains the idea of structural violence as the oppressive systems in play which all those who are engaged in take part in, perhaps subconsciously. As American citizens, we are thus responsible for structural violence, whether or not we personally engage.

So how do we, as students move forward? How do we escape America’s colonial past? The answer is uncertain, but it is clear that some form of systematic change has to occur, most likely at a political and a social level. In order to truly impact change on a health level, you have to impact change on a social scale. Until systematic racism is no longer in play, how can health ever be equal? We will have to think critically as a nation, as students, and as global citizens in effecting change and hopefully, one day, we can undo the years and years of colonialism and the damage it has caused around the world.

Putting Emotion Front and Center Once Again

By Nicholas Wang

We are inching closer to Article 25’s Day of Action on October 25. If all goes according to plan, it will be a monumental day for this brand new organization, which was founded within the past year by university students who had a simple idea for a grassroots global health advocacy organization. From that idea came the long, grueling process of formulating a tangible vision and plan for what this organization would look like and could accomplish. Long meetings both in person and over Google Hangout, hours upon hours of research and organization, aggressive network-building, and coordinated social media blitzes have all led up to a single day: October 25. There are events planned all over the world in more than 40 different countries with thousands of people attending and participating, from accomplished professionals to eager students to families and individuals that lack access to basic healthcare, all united in the belief that health is a human right. Quite the accomplishment for a young organization like Article 25.

But I think that oft-told narrative I outlined above ignores a key point: before there was the simple idea for a grassroots global health advocacy organization, there was a feeling, an emotion. It surfaced during classroom discussions, in assigned readings and documentaries, while traveling to and observing different neighborhoods and cities and countries, during conversations with classmates, friends, family, teachers and faculty, about politics, economics, policy, health, and society. It was the feeling that there was something wrong with the world, that it wasn’t quite fair that some people were born with access to health and others weren’t, that location, income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion could become a factor in determining whether you died young or old. And it was the emotion of frustration and anger at the world and the system for allowing this to happen, coupled with an overwhelming desire to do something about it. It inspired enthusiastic conversations between the young students who founded the organization, and permeates all of the events that will occur on October 25. We all feel this same passion, rooted in frustration and fueled by optimism and hope for the future: that there is something wrong and we should do something about it.

I know I felt that passion when I first heard about Article 25 and our Day of Action back in June. As Amee Amin and Jason Pace told me more about this organization and what they were hoping to accomplish, I sensed that this was not just a worthy cause and a worthy use of my time. It was something of a calling, an indescribable force that drew me in and made me want to shout from the mountaintops that health is a human right and we can do something about it. This organization empowered me to take my global health education to the next level, to step up my commitment, to join with these other like-minded individuals and create the change we want to see.

As the weeks went on, and the logistics got more and more complicated, and my mind started drifting towards the ever-approaching start of my senior year of college, I admit that the passion waxed and waned, often replaced with the dull regular reminder that I needed to get work done for Article 25. It was routine and often clerical and not as exciting, thrilling, or romantic as I had secretly envisioned it to be. To make matters worse, we are a team that is spread out all around the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, and bonding and building community via Google Hangout is difficult.

But now more than ever, with the Day of Action upon us, I think it is time for us to rekindle the spirit and passion and enthusiasm that we all once had. That is the core of what drives us to spend hours planning events and detailing logistics and sending dozens of emails. When you strip everything else away, what remains is that feeling that something is wrong, and that coinciding emotion that tells us to be both angry and hopeful. Our emotions are what will make the Day of Action meaningful and memorable, and are what will help this incredible organization continue long past October 25. If you are not yet part of our movement but feel the way we do, we encourage you to join us on our Day of Action, wherever you might be. You, like me, should feel excited, enthusiastic, and empowered about being able to make a tangible difference in our world.

World AIDS Day

To celebrate World AIDS Day, take a listen to the following inspirational StoryCorps presentation:

For more coverage of the day’s events, news, stories, and to get involved, visit

In the spirit of giving, please consider donating to GlobeMed at Northwestern:

Organization Spotlight: Tiyatien Health

A worthy organization recently brought to the chapter’s attention is Tiyatien Health, a not-for-profit that works to rebuild the failed health system of Liberia.  Liberia is still struggling to recover from a horrific civil war that ended in 2003. Tiyatien Health, headed by the liberian-born doctor Rajesh Panjabi, strives to provide what it terms “justice in health”, health equity for all Liberians.  It focuses on providing free medicine and health care to those who need it. Rajesh and all involved place great importance on teaching Liberians how to care for themselves and administer to others in order to create a health system that won’t only help those in need, but will sustain itself. Tiyatien also works with the Liberian Government to create a permanent, functioning health system and supports sustainable economic ventures in order to combat poverty. Check out Tiyatien’s website at, or the GlobeMed website for the chapter at University of Michigan, who partners with Tiyatien Health, at[uofm] .

Nigeria’s Promise, Africa’s Hope

Check out this interesting article in which renowned author, Chinua Achebe, gives social commentary on a very complex country, the history that has facilitated the structural violence crippling Nigeria (and pretty much the rest of Africa), and the steps the nation must take to solve these problems.

“Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing but medicine on a large scale.” -Paul Farmer

Act Local, Think Global (TONIGHT!)

Thursday (TONIGHT!), Nov. 11th, 8:00 p.m. in Swift 107

Community organizing or international development? Working abroad or in your own backyard? How do you engage?

They’re questions everyone has asked, but few have been able to answer. Join NUCHR, GES, NCDC and GlobeMed for a thought-provoking panel discussion this Thursday (TONIGHT)! This is the next in the “Why Does it Matter, NU?” series, bringing the NU community together to discuss how to follow their passions into sustainable change.

Wrapping up fall quarter with GlobeMed at Northwestern

It’s hard to believe that the end of fall quarter 2010 is already in sight! Here’s what GlobeMed at Northwestern will be the up to, all the way up until Finals Week!

Civically Engaged Young Alumni Week
The Center for Civic Engagement’s Civically Engaged Young Alumni Week kicked off tonight with a keynote speech by Will Butler of Arcade Fire. The week’s event also includes a Global Health Alumni panel on November 3 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Forum.

Thursday, November 11 at 7:30 pm (location TBA): GlobeMed/GES/NUCHR panel on local versus global engagement and the role we as students can have in important social justice movements.

Monday, November 15 (time and location TBA): GlobeMed/Living Wage Campaign/NCDC/Peace Project present health and human rights activist Cleve Jones. He will be speaking on a variety of issues that night and it should be pretty insightful!

Tuesday, November 16 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., Tech LR4: GlobeMed/Engineering World Health speaker event: Kellogg professor Kara Palamountain will be speaking about affordable diagnostic devices for infectious diseases in developing countries and the challenges that confront researchers in these fields.

Thursday, December 2 (afternoon time and location TBA): First book club event that will center around discussing Mountains Beyond Mountains.