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KENYA: SIT Global Health and Human Rights

Explore the social, legal, political, and economic processes that shape health care systems, access to health care, and health outcomes across national, urban, and rural settings.

Examine how health care challenges such as tropical environments and economic inequity impact healthcare delivery and policy in the East African region.

Live in Kisumu and attend classes at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, which hosts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Travel to Rwanda and Uganda to compare their healthcare systems with Kenya’s.

Past Experiences

“One of my favorite things about SIT is its commitment to experiential learning. Rather than sit in a classroom all day, we visited organizations, spoke to Kenyans about current issues, lived with host families, engaged in fieldwork, and more.” -Catherine Matthews, University of Richmond


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5.  
  • Language Requirement: A High Intermediate level of Spanish (B2) equivalent to a minimum of 5 semesters of university-level Spanish, preferably including a Literature class.


This program takes place in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.


Kenya is a country rich in wildlife, culture, history, beauty and friendly, welcoming people. Kenya is geographically diverse, from snow-capped mountain peaks to extensive forests to wide-open plains.


Uganda is a landlocked country bordered by Kenya in the east, Sudan in the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, Rwanda in the southwest and Tanzania in the south.

Uganda’s land is occupied by open water while the rest is land. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which it shares with Kenya and Tanzania.


Rwanda, warmly known as “the land of a thousand hills” is situated in East-central Africa. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. The country has a temperate climate, with two rainy seasons.




  • Global health and human rights: history, principles, norms, and standards
  • International human rights treaties
  • The right to health versus realities of diverse settings
  • Epidemiology of global health in the tropics
  • Social determinants of health
  • Water sanitation, health, and human rights
  • Environment and Health Inequalities
  • Globalization, health, and human rights
  • Public health emergencies and human rights

For information on courses, please click here. Click on “Coursework” to see available courses. 


You can opt to spend the final four weeks of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which you will conduct primary research on a topic of interest to you. The ISP can be conducted in Nairobi, Kisumu, or another approved location in Kenya appropriate to the project. An experienced local academic advisor will support you in tailoring your project and methodology. Many students extend their ISPs into senior theses, while others use their ISP as the basis for Fulbright and other fellowship opportunities following graduation.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Gendered dynamics of health and human rights
  • Urbanization, environmental degradation, and public health
  • Neglected tropical diseases in western Kenya
  • Informal settlements and their health challenges
  • Healthcare as a human right in Kenya
  • Grassroots development programs
  • Nutrition and health programming in Kisumu
  • Access to ARVs in urban and rural areas
  • Health financing in Kenya
  • Housing and human rights
  • Primary healthcare options
  • Maternal and child health
  • Family planning
  • HIV/AIDS peer education
  • Use of technology in the prevention of gender violence in Nairobi
  • Prevalence of depression among TB and HIV/AIDS patients in Kisumu

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects/undergraduate research here.

Program Website

Student Life

Program Center

The SIT program office is about 10-15 minutes from the central business district and easily accessible through various routes from homestays. The classroom, computer space, student lounge, study/library, and restroom are located within program office/grounds. The classroom and study/library are adjacent to each other. The computer space and lounge have accessible door handles. The rest area has tents and foldable seats. The program office has running water and toilets accessible through door handles. There is a refrigerator and microwave in the program office kitchen for storing and warming food carried from homestays.


The program includes single and multi-week excursions to urban and rural areas of Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Program excursions involve standing and walking for prolonged periods of time. A pair of comfortable, rubber-soled, waterproof shoes are recommended. Program excursions may occasionally vary to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities.


In Kisumu, students typically travel at least 10 minutes between their primary homestay, classes, and/or placement sites. Walking and minibuses (popularly referred to as “matatu”) are the common modes of travel for program excursions. Minibuses may be available for some program excursions. Buses are not equipped with wheelchair ramps or lifts. Taxis and minivans are also available. The general routes of travel have limited accessibility due to unpaved, bumpy, potholed roads and unmarked road crossings. Very few hospitals and government buildings are physically accessible.

  Internship Opportunities

Get experience in the planning, delivery, and management of public health in the tropics during this optional internship. Throughout the semester, you will be introduced to a number of different organizations in Kisumu and Nairobi during regular coursework, lectures, excursions, site visits, and collaborative projects. The internship will give you an opportunity to build on one of these connections under the guidance of a researcher, medical professional, or development worker who acts as your project advisor.

Sample internships:

  • Assisting health-related projects with the Red Cross and USAID
  • Conducting policy research at African Population and Health Research Center
  • Assisting research on HIV, TB, and malaria at Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Centers for Disease Control
  • Supporting hygiene, sanitation, and environmental projects with Network for Water and Sanitation
  • Helping Amref Health Africa’s projects in Kenya
  • Providing healthcare and emotional support at Kenya’s Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS

In addition, you will submit a paper in which you describe, assess, and analyze what you learned during your internship. The paper will outline the tasks you completed throughout the internship, professional relationships you developed, and challenges you encountered and how you overcame them.

Experiential Opportunities



You’ll travel to the western side of the Lake Victoria region, via the Great Rift Valley. This excursion gives you an opportunity to examine Rwanda’s exceptional achievements in healthcare, including its extremely low rates of HIV and malaria and its universal health insurance. You’ll compare Rwanda’s healthcare systems with Kenya’s.


You’ll travel to Uganda to study its healthcare system and the processes and dynamics that have shaped it and their implications for health outcomes. You will study the mixed impacts of privatization on healthcare, decentralization, and community-based healthcare systems. Through this excursion, you will gain a frame of reference from which to further examine Kenya’s healthcare system.

Site Visits

You will experience multiple site visits throughout the semester to get a firsthand look at concepts developed in readings, lectures, group work, assignments, and in-class. Past site visits include the United Nations Environment Program and United Nations Habitat in Nairobi, the Mathare Youth Sports Association (one of the most celebrated success stories of urban African development programs influencing health and human rights in an informal setting), the county government of Makueni (the first county in Kenya to implement universal health coverage), and water-sanitation and eco-friendly projects in Kibera.


You will spend a few days in Nairobi. Here, you will visit various United Nations bodies and other international and nongovernmental organizations where you will explore global health and human rights issues that you can develop into your Independent Study Project or internship proposal.


Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Excursions on this program range from multi-week to single-day study trips.

Housing and Meals


The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

This program includes two homestays: one in an urban community in Kisumu and one in a rural community in Semenya village near Kisumu. Through these homestays, you’ll gain a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural perspectives in urban and rural Kenya as you explore public health and human rights issues.


Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. A major port and trading hub and the center of the Luo community, Kisumu has played a significant role in the country’s modern history. Its fisheries and agriculture are important contributors to the local, national, and regional economy.

Kisumu is the program’s main homestay. Here, you will live with a local family for a combined total of five weeks. Kisumu is a trading city at the crossroads of East and Central Africa, a relaxed city in a beautiful setting on the sloping shores of Lake Victoria. Kisumu homestays are generally within walking distance to SIT’s program office.

Rural Homestay, Semenya, Slaya County

During the weeklong village stay, you will complete a research assignment exploring issues of health and human rights from a local perspective. Many students regard the rural excursion as both the most challenging and the most rewarding component of the program. Students sometimes struggle to adjust to the slow pace and basic living conditions of rural Kenya, only to find that they have formed surprisingly strong bonds with their host family during this brief period.

Other accommodations on the program may include hostels, guest houses, tented camps, small hotels, and private homes.



All meals will be provided by the host family, through a stipened, and through SIT directly. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee includes orientation, SIT coordinator, college fees, excursions, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week. These meals include both those served by the host family as well as a stipend to purchase other food on your own.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of October 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office