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PHR Chapter Project Ideas

This page includes project ideas from PHR Chapters across the world. It is continually evolving, so check back often. We hope these examples will inspire you to take on projects at your school.

If you need help troubleshooting or planning, we are more than happy to help:

Mentorship Program

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

First year medical students are matched with faculty mentors that share similar interests (such as in refugee outreach, global health, women's health...etc). These faculty agree to become a mentor to their students and meet with them at least twice a year to discuss their shared interest and be a source of support through medical school. One student and her faculty mentor created an NGO organization in Nepal together, where the student was originally from and where the mentor happened to have worked for many years. Others have met regularly around coffee illustrating the wide spectrum of collaboration and support. The school holds two annual dinners where all students and mentors come together to foster a human rights community. 

PHR Social Justice Talks

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Justice Socials bring together student peers & faculty to discuss topics of interest related to social justice and health. Students take turns picking a topic and related reading (an article or chapter) or documentary, and developing discussion questions. You do not need to be an expert on the topic you choose, just have an interest! Students usually coordinate a potluck for food. The goal is to learn from and inspire each other.

Example of topics: Zika epidemic in the Americas, Racial issues in US incarceration, Global response to international disasters, Michael Pollon and eating well, the Obesity epidemic in the US, LGBTQ health, physician assisted suicide, the future of cancer, Black Lives Matter movement, EMRs, what does Brexit mean for the EU, Gun violence in the US.

A Place for the Displaced: finding home and health for refugees

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

This symposium on refugee health aimed to generate a discussion on the current crisis abroad and unpack the legal, logistical, and health-related implications of mass migration.

The symposium started with accounts from the field as told by photographer James Nachtwey followed by a free documentary screening. Discussions were held the following day centering on current health efforts in refugee camps abroad, health for refugees in the U.S., sociological aspects of trauma and the legacies of war on survivors, and the process of becoming a refugee or asylum seeker in the U.S. There was hands-on learning with a case study requiring multi-disciplinary solutions to pressing problems faced by our current world. This is their website.

Speakers and Topics included:

  • Photographer James Nachtwey “Journey of Loss and Hope”

  • Free screening of 'Salam Neighbor'

  • Former Ambassador Ronald Kuchel

  • David Sussman, PhD, “Over Borders, Under Protected: Global Forced Displacement and Implications for Refugee Health“

  • Amer Al-Nimr, MD, “Syrian Refugee in Jordan: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’”

  • Paul Geltman, MD, MPH “Overview of Recent Refugee Arrivals & Policy Issues in Refugee Resettlement”

  • Erin Jacobsen, JD “Defining Refugees: Legal Distinctions & Processes”

Social and Gender Inequity Symposium

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

The Geisel School of Medicine chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, Tuck’s Center for Business & Society, and the Nathan Smith Society of the Dartmouth College organized a symposium on gender and social inequity. The goal of this symposium was to educate and bring awareness on social and gender inequity issues happening locally mostly and also internationally. The symposium hope to help the audience members better identify these issues in their everyday life and start tackling them. Speakers and Topics included:

  • Dr. Holly Atkinson, keynote speaker, PHR's former president: Gender Inequity through time

  • Domestic and Sexual Violence, Wynona Ward & Peggy O'Neil

  • Breaking down LGBTQ and its stereotypes.

  • LGTBQ barriers faced in healthcare.

A Monstrous Octopus: The Tentacles Of Poverty

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

The Geisel School of Medicine chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, Tuck’s Center for Business & Society, and the Nathan Smith Society of the Dartmouth College organized a campus-wide poverty symposium at Dartmouth College. The event seeked to promote awareness and understanding among all students, faculty, and members of the Dartmouth & Upper Valley communities on issues of poverty on the local, national, and global levels.  The symposium hope to yield activism and volunteerism among Dartmouth students and community members as well as inspiration for future collaborations across Dartmouth towards the alleviation of poverty. This is their website. 

Speakers and Topics included:

  • Keynote speaker: James Withers, MD, “One Bridge to the Next”: Street Medicine in Pittsburgh, PA

  • Jaime Bayona MD, MPH, “A Workshop To Take Action”: Providing Answers to Poverty in Villa Maria, Peru

  • “Bridges Out of Poverty” – A Training Workshop by Upper Valley Heaven, a local non-profit organization food, shelter, education, clothing and support for those in poverty.

  • Activism and the Arts: A Conversation with Amos Kennedy

Restorative Justice Collaboration

School: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in collaboration with the Hartford Community Restorative Justice Center Hartford, VT

Bias against incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals runs rampant in American society, and negatively affects such individuals’ ability to access employment, housing, and healthcare. In order to combat this in a proactive and service-oriented way, the Restorative Justice Panel in Hartford, VT was created. This panel composed of clients and community members help people who have been convicted of crimes to recognize and repair harm done to their families and communities, and create safety plans to avoid re-offending. By bringing together the offender and members of the affected community, the restorative justice process emphasizes listening and understanding as a way forward to successful resolution and reentry. Medical students are trained every year to join this Restorative Panel and attend biweekly sessions.

PC's for Refugees

School: Midwestern University

The Southwest PHR chapter at Midwestern University has been active with helping the Syrian refugees here in Phoenix. A campaign referred to as PC's for refugees was initiated by a few members of the community in efforts to collect, modify, and distribute gently used computers and laptops to refugees and impoverished communities in the Phoenix area. They have been able to spearhead these efforts and give each family the essential right to access the Internet for job searching, communicating with relatives, learning English, completing homework, and much more. If you would like to be a part of the effort, please visit

Somali Upstate Folk Art Partnership

School: SUNY Upstate

SUNY Upstate PHR chapter, in collaboration with Refugee & Immigration Self-Employment organization (RISE), engage with refugee women and children through arts and crafts. This allows the use of art to address mental health, bring women out of isolation, promote mindfulness, and build relationships with the refugee women. It also allows them to share and preserve their folk art from their countries of origin. The students love learning and the women love sharing their cultural art. Finished products are sold at an end of the year event with Somali food, henna and music. This allows the program to be sustainable and income generating for the women. To learn more visit their website.

Health Literacy Project

School: Yale 

The IRIS Health Literacy Project is a collaboration between the local New Haven refugee resettlement agency—IRIS--and Yale School of Medicine students, residents, and faculty. Established in 2016, we are striving to create an evidence-based partnership to improve the health literacy of recently resettled refugees in our community, as well as facilitate their access to under-utilized health and social services. Learn more about IRIS here.

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