Comparative Public Health: Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

  • mountain region in  Bosnia-Herzegovina

About This Program

  • Location:  Belgrade, Serbia - University of Belgrade, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina - University of Sarajevo
  • Term: Summer Quarter
  • Language of instruction: English
  • Eligibility: Open to sophomore, junior, and senior NU and non-NU students from all majors meeting  NU's minimum application requirements
  • Program type: Specially Designed Program
  • Program credits: 4 NU credits

Summer 2018

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: March 1
  • Anticiapted program dates: Sunday, June 24, 2018 (date of arrival in Belgrade)- Sunday, August 19, 2018 (date of departure from Sarajevo)

Summer 2018: $11,200

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $7,800 includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $3,400 includes:

  • $1,800 international airfare airfare to and from Belgrade/Sarajevo (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $100 for books and supplies
  • $1,500 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships, and may also be eligible for external funding opportunities.

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


This new program introduces students to healthcare systems and policies in the former Yugoslavia and to the specific public health challenges facing these post-socialist and post-conflict societies. Students will spend four weeks in Belgrade, Serbia, followed by four weeks in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they will develop a nuanced and comparative perspective on the politics and history of recent conflicts, as well as relevant social and political determinants of health disparities, in the region.

Through four one-credit courses, site visits, cultural excursions, and supervised field activities at community health organizations, students will learn about:

  • the cultures, languages, and communities in the region
  • the impact of war, humanitarianism, and neoliberal economic reforms on local health systems
  • the place of health and healthcare delivery in postwar reform and reconstruction processes
  • the pressing current health policy debates and public health challenges in each country
  • post-traumatic stress, humanitarian psychiatry, and post-war mental health care

Host Institutions

The University of Belgrade is the largest and oldest university in Serbia. Founded in 1808, the university has approximately 90,000 students and 4,000 teaching staff. The School of Medicine is networked with institutes of public health, hospitals, clinics, and medical research facilities throughout the country.

The University of Sarajevo is the oldest institution of higher education in the former Yugoslavia, tracing its history to the founding of an Ottoman Islamic law college in 1531. As a modern, secular university, it was established in 1949 is the most prestigious institution of higher education and research in Bosnia-Herzegovina with approximately 50,000 students and over 1,000 teaching staff.

Wings of Hope (Krila Nade in Bosnian) was founded during the siege of Sarajevo in 1994 to provide psychosocial care to young people and to facilitate reintegration into familial and social life. Since that time, it has grown to become one of the most effective and well-respected NGOs in Sarajevo, implementing a broad range of services to the hundreds of vulnerable Sarajevo families that participate in their projects each year.

Housing & Meals

In both locations students live in university arranged housing and will have access to breakfast as well as basic kitchen and laundry facilities, en suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi. Affordable dining options are abundant in both Belgrade and Sarajevo.

In Belgrade, students will share double rooms in the University’s famous King Alexandar I dormitory (also known as “Lola”). The dormitory is centrally located in downtown Belgrade, with easy access by foot, taxi, or public transportation to University buildings, sites of historical and cultural interest, nightlife, and shopping

In Sarajevo students will stay in the Saraj Hotel in furnished single rooms with bathrooms. This grand hotel has incredible sweeping views and is just a 10-minute walk from Baščaršija square and 30-minute walk to the university. Daily breakfast is included and students also have access to hotel amenities such as the restaurant and swimming pool.


This program offers a set curriculum, so students must enroll in all courses listed below. Courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcripts and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.

GBL HLTH 390-SA-20: Public Health and Mental Health in Serbia

Local public health and medical scholars and practitioners will introduce students to the healthcare systems and policies of Serbia; the impact of war and the “transition” from socialism to market-based economic policies on public health; and pressing current health policy debates and public health challenges. In addition, the course will cover key mental health challenges in Serbia and how they are being addressed in policy and clinical practice. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers.

GBL HLTH 390-SA-21: Public Health and Mental Health in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Students will explore the contemporary healthcare systems and policies of Bosnia-Herzegovina under the guidance of a range of local health scholars and practitioners from academic institutions, healthcare services, and nongovernmental organizations. The course will consider themes introduced to students in Serbia, including the long-term effects of war, humanitarian aid, and the “transition” from socialism to capitalism on public health. In addition, the course will explore mental illness and mental health care in Bosnia in depth, including challenges related to war trauma and post-traumatic stress. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers, and students will also have the opportunity to engage in supervised field activities under the auspices of the psychosocial services NGO Wings of Hope.

SLAVIC 255-SA-20: Slavic Civilizations: History, Culture, and Politics of Serbia

Students will receive introductory lectures on the cultures, literature, art, history, and religions of Serbia, as well as the politics and policies of Serbia’s post-war transition to liberal democracy, a market economy, and candidacy for European Union membership. This course will also include instruction in basic Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language skills, with a focus on navigating daily life and transportation and responding appropriately to daily greetings and gestures of hospitality. Instruction will be provided by a range of faculty members from the humanities and social sciences.

SLAVIC 255-SA-21: Slavic Civilizations: History, Culture, and Politics of Bosnia-Herzegovina

This course will introduce students to the histories, cultures, and contemporary governance of Bosnia-Herzegovina in comparison to Serbia and other post-Yugoslav states. Faculty from the humanities will guide students in exploring Bosnia-Herzegovina’s dynamic past and diverse religious and cultural traditions through art, literature, and visits to sites of historical significance. Lectures from faculty in the social sciences and visits to national and international institutions of governance will introduce students to the political framework created by the 1995 Dayton Accords, questions of national identity and statehood, and the policy reform challenges that Bosnia-Herzegovina faces on the road to European Union membership. The course will also continue instruction in basic local language skills focused on essential day-to-day phrases.