Harvard Summer Program in Kisumu, Kenya

June 18, 2017 to July 28, 2017
Apply by: 
January 26, 2017

Explore diverse approaches for using innovations and technologies to transform healthcare in Kenya. 

African governments are searching for ways to harness the power of science, technology, and innovation to foster transformation in healthcare delivery. Their strategies are being significantly influenced by the forces of globalization. International development agencies are similarly rethinking their approaches in light of the opportunities provided by rapid advances in science and technology.

In the Harvard Summer Program in Kisumu, Kenya, you explore diverse approaches for using innovations and technologies to foster transformative and sustainable healthcare improvements in Africa. Closely mentored student teams design, develop, and test their own innovations.

Kisumu information Webinar

Learn more about this program and ask questions. Webinars take place:

  • December 9, 2016, 12 to 1 pm EST
  • January 6, 2017, 12 to 1 pm EST 

To RSVP, please e-mail Hao Dinh and webinar instructions will be sent. 

Program Structure

Understanding the greatest challenges and opportunities for change will lay the foundation upon which you will explore diverse approaches for integrating and adopting innovations and new technologies into a healthcare delivery system. During the six-week intensive program in western Kenya, you will use an interdisciplinary approach, one that emphasizes the importance of teamwork, in designing and implementing innovations and technologies. It will demonstrate that all innovations, as beneficial as they may be, must be integrated locally to be successful.

You can hear past students discuss their healthcare innovation projects. Watch the video


AAAS S-181s counts as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit.

AAAS S-181S Study Abroad in Kisumu, Kenya: Innovating for Health Transformations in Africa (33485)

Thomas F. Burke
Melody J. Eckardt
Moytrayee Guha
Katherine A. Krontiris
Brett D. Nelson

8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The aim of this summer program is to equip students with an in-depth understanding of approaches to tackling intractable healthcare challenges through innovations and technologies. The course is divided into four broad sections

It begins with an introduction to the language, history, and culture of Kenya and the east-African community (one week).

This is followed by an in-depth exploration of what it means to take a chosen identified healthcare problem and to innovate in order to develop and deploy a sustainable and scalable solution. We initially develop an understanding of the greatest healthcare challenges confronting the African continent; try case-based approaches to problem characterization, solution development, and refinement; and ultimately test delivery models for healthcare improvement. In these cases we review policy and economic implications (two weeks).

Then, students are grouped into teams of four and closely mentored to spend three weeks in the field working through the strategic components of a chosen healthcare innovation and/or technology. Emphases are on thoroughly understanding a chosen healthcare problem, how a viable hypothesis and strategy for solution is generated, and then how a plan for implementation and testing is rigorously deployed and integrated (three weeks).

The last two weeks of the summer program include one week of preparing a final paper and a group presentation, which are presented in the final week.

In addition to developing analytical skills, students are expected to strengthen their capacity to work in teams by integrating knowledge from diverse sources. Training in the natural or engineering sciences is not a requirement for the course. Students are expected to leverage their previous experiences and explore new avenues related to their career aspirations.

The course includes guided discussions, lectures, guest speakers, field work, assigned readings, and presentations by students. Modest adjustments in the syllabus are introduced to accommodate specialized interests by students and to take advantage of topical issues as they arise.

Prerequisites: none. The program is designed to accommodate students from all fields interested in the role of innovations and technologies to transform healthcare delivery in Africa.

Where You Live and Study

Kisumu is Kenya's third-largest city located on a port. It is an ideal city for exploring the nation's and region's diversity and healthcare challenges. 


You and your fellow students stay in secure and comfortable retreat villas with large courtyard, internet, and private communal areas for family meals and team work.

How to Apply

Review How to Apply before submitting your application.

Application materials include: 

  1. A statement of interest in the program
    • Includes information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite) 
  2. Transcripts
    • Harvard College applicants: You may submit an unofficial transcript accessed from my.harvard.edu
    • Non-Harvard applicants: Submit an official transcript from your university
  3. A $50 nonrefundable application fee

Note: Interviews may be requested.

Apply Now

All application materials are due January 26, 2017. You will be notified of admission decisions by mid- to late-February.


The program fee includes tuition, accommodation, scheduled excursions and activities, and some meals.

See Payment and Funding for information on how to submit payments and funding options. 

Student budget

In addition to the program fee, you will need to budget for a number of personal expenses: 

  • International airfare ($1,600 to $2,000)
  • Local transportation ($200)
  • Lunches, some breakfasts and dinners ($1,000)
  • Course materials ($200)
  • Visa fees (for US citizens) ($50)
  • Personal expenditures, laundry, communications, and miscellaneous ($500)

Please note: The amounts are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not listed here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including your personal spending habits and currency exchange rates. If you have specific questions about budgeting, please contact the program directly.

Additional information

Program director

Thomas F. Burke


  • Thomas F. Burke, MD, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Chief, Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Melody J. Eckardt, MD, Director of Maternal Health and Director of the Global Health and Innovations Fellowship, Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Moytrayee Guha, MPH, Director of Operations, Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Katherine A. Krontiris, MA, Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School
  • Brett D. Nelson, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School