Global History, Anthropology & Ethics of (Global) Health

Historical, anthropological and ethical perspectives are essential for understanding and guiding Global Health.

Global Health History

In cooperation with colleagues from Oxford, Basel, Bern and Shanghai, Bonn has developed into one of the German centers for the history of colonial, missionary and tropical medicine as well as health in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

Research projects


  • Prof. Iris Borowy, History of International Development, University of Shanghai/China
  • Prof. Hubert Steinke, Medical History, University of Bern/Switzerland

Medical Anthropology

For the social and cultural aspects of Global Health, now the area of the new professorship, medical anthropology has been developed at the Bonn Medical Faculty since the early 1990s. At Bonn Volker Roelcke founded the “AG Ethnomedizin” (Working Group Medical Anthropology) in 1992 by introducing joint seminars with relevant disciplines of the Philosophical Faculty, supervising the doctoral dissertation of Michael Knipper and initiating the habilitation of Walter Bruchhausen. Since then, internationally recognized expertise has been built particularly in the areas of spirituality/religion and health/medicine, “traditional medicine” in East Africa and intercultural health care ethics.




A new value basis that emphasizes human rights, equity and respect for sociocultural diversity distinguishes Global Health from its many predecessors. Thus, ethics are an indispensable part of Global Health and stood at the beginnings of this new area and era in Bonn, too.

Based on his postgraduate studies in Health Care Ethics (University of Glasgow under the supervision of Prof. Robin S. Downie), relevant areas of moral theology (Prof. Bernhard Fraling/Würzburg and Gerhard Höver/Bonn) and the ethical workshops for (future) physicians (initiated by Prof. Ludger Honnfelder/Bonn) that became a starting point for IWE and DRZE, Walter Bruchhausen started teaching in biomedical and clinical ethics at Bonn University in 1997. In cooperation with several partners, this led to a lasting institutionalization of ethics in Bonn such as:

  • Clinical Ethics as an obligatory seminar in 4th or 5th year of medical education
  • Ethics for final year medical students (“PJ-Ethik”)
  • Biomedical Ethics in the course Biomolecular Medicine
  • “AG Medizinethik am UKB”, later upgraded to the Clinical Ethics Committee (KEK)


Landline phone: +49 (0) 228 287 10317

You find us in Building 66 (Gebäude 66) on the Venusberg-Campus.
For a map of the campus click here.

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Postal Address:
Section Global Health
Institute of Hygiene and Public Health
Venusberg-Campus 1
D-53127 Bonn