Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 2015

Thesis Advisor

Frances Barg


This study offers a critical analysis of international short-term volunteer work, also known as “voluntourism”, in designated “poor countries”, the global south, by university students from relatively “rich countries”, the global north. Using literature reviews, participant observation, and interviews with student volunteers, the motivations for volunteering its consequences on global health are understood from a student volunteer perspective. Based on this understanding, the involvement of participating organizations and the effects on the communities involved are evaluated. From this report, I intend to expand the conversation on “voluntourism”, specifically in the medical field and offer suggestions to consider for future student volunteers and organizations alike. Although well intentioned, the basic structure for medical volunteering at an untrained, undergraduate level perpetuates an unrealistic and ill-informed view of public health care for underserved populations. This involvement can further damage the social structure of local and international health care.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 08 June 2016


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