Exploring the Hidden Curriculum of Global Health


  • Kelly Christine Anderson University of Toronto
  • Jane Philpott University of Toronto
  • Danyaal Raza Harvard School of Public Health


global health, medical education, global health ethics, hidden curriculum


Universities are experiencing a hurried expansion of global health programs to accommodate interested trainees. A growing body of literature has addressed the practical and ethical considerations for singular global health experiences, and other articles have begun to tackle competencies for building global health curricula. However, standardized approaches to teaching global health are frequently absent, leaving learners to build their knowledge through a variety of avenues: formal coursework, informal reading, conferences, research, mentorship, and electives. The hidden curriculum, described as “processes, pressures and constraints which fall outside…the formal curriculum, and which are often unarticulated or unexplored”, has been identified as a powerful force in medical education, affecting impressions, decisions, career paths and morale of trainees. Because global health education is evolving rapidly, is it possible it contains its own uncharted hidden curriculum influencing learners in unknown ways? By investigating the contents of the hidden curricula, trainees have the opportunity to reframe and reconsider how it affects them, whether positively or negatively. But identifying and articulating hidden curricula or shared hidden perceptions is not an easy task. We offer four areas of hidden curriculum as opportunities for exploration.

Author Biographies

Kelly Christine Anderson, University of Toronto

Dr. Anderson is a Family Physician with the Department of Family Medicine at St. Michael's Hospital as well as with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Jane Philpott, University of Toronto

Dr. Philpott is a Family Physician and Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital. She is also an Assistant Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Danyaal Raza, Harvard School of Public Health

Dr. Raza is a Family Physician and Master of Public Health candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. He is a former University of Toronto Global Health & Vulnerable Populations Fellow.


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Themes and Debates