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EducationUniversity of Groningen Summer Schools

Human Rights and Global Health Challenges

Non-Communicable Diseases, Mental Health and Climate Change
drawing of people looking at a hospital file
“...the right to health is not simply a noble idea on a piece of paper. In the past 70 years, it has been a platform for major improvements in global health.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

This summer school addresses three main global health challenges: non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health and climate change. It provides an introduction to international health law and its role in addressing these challenges. In this course we address the following topics and questions:

NCDs account for 70% of deaths globally, largely caused by behavioural risk factors, including: unhealthy diets and tobacco consumption.

  • Why are NCDs a legal issue?  
  • How can States effectively use law to promote healthy behaviour?

Mental disorders affect every fourth person at some point in their life. They are a leading cause of ill-health and disability globally.

  • What is global mental health?
  • How can human rights law promote and protect mental health?
  • What are the legal challenges?

According to the WHO, air pollution is responsible for 7.7% of the global mortality rate, while climate change increasingly negatively affects our human health in myriad ways.

  • What are key health risks of air pollution and climate change?
  • How can international law help curb them?
Practical information

Dates & location 12 - 17 July 2020, Groningen the Netherlands
Level LLB/LLM/Medical Students/PhD/Postdoc/Practitioners
Fee (excluding housing)

Fee UG students: 305
Fee external students: 505
Fee practitioners: 655

Academic coordinators

Faculty of Law
Prof. Brigit Toebes
Meaghan Beyer, LLM
Natalie Schuck, LLM
Marlies Hesselman, LLM

Contact ncdandlaw

The participation fee includes:

  • Participation in the programme
  • Lunches, coffee/tea as part of the programme
  • Global Health Law Groningen Research Centre Network Dinner
  • Sustainable Cooking Course (Vegan meal)
  • Yoga Class
  • City tour and welcome drinks

This summer course is intended for those that are interested in discovering how international and domestic legal frameworks can be applied to address current global health challenges. (Bachelor, Master, Early Career Researchers, Civil Society Representatives and Practitioners).

Language requirements
It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.
Group picture
Learning outcomes

After this course you will:

  1. Have a sound understanding of the Non-Communicable Disease crisis. You will be able to identify the main behavioral risk factors and the current international and domestic legal approaches and challenges.
  2. Have a sound understanding of mental health as a global health and human rights challenge. You will gain knowledge in the areas of global mental health and the applicable international human rights law.
  3. Have a sound understanding of the pollutants related to climate change and global air pollution and their effects on health, in particular NCDs. You will gain knowledge about current legal responses to curb negative health effects in the areas of international environmental, climate and human rights law.

Preparation: 5 hours
Lectures: 30 hours
Presentation: 1 hour

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 36 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.
students discussing in classroom

Housing in an international student house is available upon request (fee TBA)

You will stay at Upsilon International Students House. This newly built residence is beautifully located between the city centre of Groningen and the University campus. There is a coffee corner at the main entrance and a rooftop where you can enjoy the sunset. You will have a fully furnished private room, with its own bathroom and toilet. The kitchen/living room is shared with approx. 8 other students, and offers you a place to have dinner or to play a (board) game with your fellow summer school students.


The kitchens are fully equipped with electric stoves, ovens, fridges, freezers, etc. and of course pots and pans. Please note that food (breakfast, lunch, dinner) is not included unless otherwise specified by your summer school. You should count on spending approximately €15-20 per day on meals, snacks, coffee/tea and/or other refreshments.


The housing service is optional, please indicate on your online application form if you want to have accommodation arranged for you. If you agree to have housing arranged for you, you will be offered a standard package with the following conditions:

  • Standard rental from Saturday 11 July to Saturday 18 July (7 nights). This includes cleaning, bed package (duvet, pillow + linen) and basic kitchen utensils.
  • Check-in is on Saturdays between 2 PM and 10 PM or Sundays between 2 PM and 4 PM. The central summer school office will be there to welcome you.
  • Check-out is on Saturday before 10 AM.
  • Cancellation policy: Participants who cancel within 3 weeks before the start of the summer school are liable to pay the full amount.

Please note that the international student house is a regular home and not hotel-quality accommodation. If you prefer to stay in other accommodation, please make use of one of the many hotels in Groningen.

Application procedure

The deadline for application for the summer school is 1 May 2020. To apply, kindly fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to upload:

  • Curriculum Vitae (max. 2 pages)
  • Motivation letter, clearly stating why you want to join this summer school, what you will bring to the school and what you hope to learn (max. 1 page)

Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis.


Prof. Brigit Toebes
Meaghan Beyer, LLM
Natalie Schuck, LLM
Marlies Hesselman, LLM
David Patterson

This course will cover lectures on:

  • International Human Rights Law
  • Global Health Law
  • Non-communicable Diseases and Legal Challenges
  • Mental Health
  • Climate Change and Air Pollution
Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
Global Health Law Groningen
Global Health Law Groningen

Global Health Law Groningen is a unique centre in the Netherlands working in a multidisciplinary setting, which focuses on various health dimensions from the perspective of public international law. With a wide range of highly qualified members and fellows, GHLG works in many different fields regarding international health law. Many factors contribute to and affect the wellbeing of individuals, which is why the members of GHLG combine their individual expertise in order to tackle serious challenges relating to health. More information about the centre can be found here. For more informaton about the Faculty of Law and the Department of Transboundary Legal Studies please check their websites.

Last modified:01 November 2019 2.18 p.m.