Global Brigade Scholar, Jamal McPherson, shares his story. Join GSU on a life-changing experience abroad through serving communities around the world.


Global Brigades

Global Brigades  

Global Brigades is an international non-profit that uniquely implements a holistic model to meet a community’s health and economic goals. Their model systematically builds community ownership and collaboratively executes programs with the end goal of sustainably transitioning to a relationship of impact monitoring.   

Their mission is to empower volunteers and under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities and inspire all involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world. Their vision is to improve equality of life by igniting the largest student-led social responsibility movement on the planet.   

Through service learning abroad, you will embody and accomplish both the mission and the vision of Global Brigades. 

Legal Empowerment Brigade in Panama
Winter 2019

Brigade Dates: January 4 - 10, 2019
Faculty Leaders: Dr. Phyllis West & Dr. Nicole Koonce
Course: SOCW 5000 or CDIS 8000 (options to audit for $75)     
Program Fee: $1,900    

Panama Information Handout 

Program Description 

Volunteers will focus on empowering families, women and children, in small, under resourced, rural communities with limited to no access to legal resources otherwise. Volunteers will assist Panamanian lawyers to conduct legal clinics and provide workshops on human rights topics to empower communities.  


Public Health Brigade in Ghana
Summer 2019

Brigade Dates: May 24 - June 4, 2019
Faculty Leaders: Dr. Phyllis West & Dr. Nicole Koonce
Course: SOCW 5000 or CDIS 8000 (options to audit for $75)     
Program Fee: $2,595  
NOTE: Regular applications are no longer being accepted, however, we are accepting applications for one student to be the Global Service Learning Scholar until March 8, 2019. Please see details below. 

Global Service Learning Scholar Application  

One student will be fully funded to participate in the Public Health Brigade to Ghana.  
Deadline: Applications must be received no later than noon on Friday, March 8th, 2019. Late applications will not be considered.    


  • First Generation College Student
  • Never travelled outside of the U.S.A.
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA for Undergraduate, 3.0 GPA for Graduate or Doctoral
  • Good financial and community standing at GSU

How to apply:

1. Write an 800-1000 word essay in Word about the following:  

  • Describe your educational journey. What challenges have you faced academically and how have you overcome them?
  • How do you believe this service learning experience will enrich your education?
  • We consider the Global Service Learning Scholar to be an ambassador of GSU and the USA. What qualities do you have that will allow you to fulfill this role?  
  • How will you bring this experience back to share with others?

2. Send an email to Study Abroad Coordinator, Amy Schoenberg, at with the title “APP: Global Service Learning Scholar”. 

  • Attach the essay to the email.
  • Include the full names of two references at GSU in the email.  

Program Description 

Public Health Brigades empower under resourced communities in the developing world to decrease life-threatening diseases by providing public health education and improving local infrastructure. Global Brigades works to train community volunteers to promote health and hygiene. Volunteers work side-by-side with the community to improve the overall infrastructure within their homes through the construction of a variety of projects, ranging from washable latrines to eco-stoves. Projects were chosen based on community need and project feasibility. Since waterborne diseases such as intestinal parasites are highly prevalent, many of our projects focus on improving water and human waste management systems.  Between brigades, the in-country team provides follow-up to ensure the maintenance and continued use of projects. 

This brigade incorporates experiential learning course content, which examines the relationship between the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Mass Incarceration in America. Students will visit a local school and journey the path of three locations where Africans were captured before departing and embarking upon 500 years of enslavement. The academic course around the service program will be an emotional journey that looks at how the slave trade began and how it still affects society today.  




Dr. Phyllis West, Social Work

Dr. Phyllis West, Social Work

I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work. I have trained undergraduate and graduate students at GSU for 10 years. I teach the practice courses, diversity and health. My professional training and areas of expertise are public health, community strategic planning, organizational development, mass incarceration, maternal and child health, and international health.

Dr. Nicole Koonce, Communication Disorders

Dr. Nicole Koonce, Communication Disorders

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Governors State University. I am also a certified Speech-Language Pathologist with more than 14 years of clinical experience in pediatric communication disorders.

Global Service Learning Leadership

Global Service Learning Leadership

There are many ways in which students participating in a brigade can exercise their leadership skills. For each brigade, three students are chosen to help lead the group throughout the process to assist with taking the lead in fundraising, educating and team building. Ask how you can become a brigade leader!

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