2019-2020 Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

A person smiling.

Heather Westwood '20

Project Title:  The Development of a Holistic Approach to Global Health.

Summary:  Health and the employment of biomedicine across the global have undeniably alleviated suffering. Access to healthcare is a vital component of human development and has been utilized as an important indicator. The broad concept of global health contains a rich history that dates back to the period of colonialism. Contemporary understandings of global health are rapidly shifting focus away from a strict biomedical approach to better encompass factors that produces health inequities. Health indicators reveal that marginalized communities, specifically Indigenous communities, still experience the greatest health disparities in the world. This thesis project assesses the impact of a conventional global health approach on Indigenous communities. The project highlights the region of Latin America as a case study that contextualizes the cultural barriers that arise within global health interventions and the impact it has. The final section of the project focuses on how the integration of an Indigenous perspective in global health has potential benefits for the promotion of a multidimensional, cross-cultural understanding of health for both humans and the environment. This thesis argues that approaching health through the centralization of Indigenous voices is essential for the growth and success of global health as a discipline.