Humanitarian Action in the 21st century: An introduction

Course content

The humanitarian landscape is changing, challenging past decades of humanitarian action; closing the gap between population needs and humanitarian response requires new approaches and new paradigms. This course is designed to provide participants with an introduction to the theories and practices of humanitarian action in a global perspective: its historical and legal foundations, the international system in place to support it, different typologies of humanitarian crises, challenges and trends, as well as possible career paths in the field. The aim is to encourage research and critical reflection on humanitarian action and lessons learnt from contemporary humanitarian crises by providing participants with an overview of the historical, conceptual as well as operational aspects of humanitarian intervention.

Education

Master of Science in Global Health

Learning outcome

The aim of the summer course in Humanitarian Action is to encourage research and critical reflection on humanitarian action and lessons learnt from contemporary humanitarian crises by providing participants with an overview of the historical, conceptual as well as operational aspects of humanitarian action.

Skills

At the end of the course, participants will have trained their ability to:

  • Carry out concrete analyses of a humanitarian action using systems theory, methods, key concepts and terminology

  • Carry out focused search, interpretation and synthesis of data and literature relevant to analyze and discuss an approach to humanitarian action

  • Argue for the choice of an approach to a humanitarian action based on a specific issue and a specific case

  • Discuss the potentially harmful implications of choosing a specific approach in a given case of humanitarian action

  • Identify and communicate paradoxes and dilemmas of humanitarian action

  • Present the results of an analysis in oral and written form, including a clear problem statement, discussion and conclusion.

Knowledge

At the end of the course, the participants have knowledge to:

  • Describe theories (e.g. complex systems theory) and practices applied to humanitarian action in a global perspective: historical and legal foundations of humanitarian action, the international system in place to support it (e.g. actors and organizations)
     
  • Explain key concepts and terminology of humanitarian action (e.g. hazard, risk, susceptibility, resilience) and different typologies of humanitarian crises (e.g. armed conflict, natural disasters, complex emergencies)
     
  • Explain key concepts and approaches to humanitarian action (e.g. feeding programs, cluster approaches, rights based approaches, advocacy efforts, etc.)
     
  • Refer to recent literature on humanitarian action and lessons learnt from contemporary humanitarian crises, focusing specifically on health, human and social sciences research perspectives. 
     
  • Understand and reflect upon challenges and trends of humanitarian action and their importance for programme planning and implementation
     

Competencies

At the end of the course, participants have acquired competencies that allow them to independently:

  • Plan and carry out analyses of humanitarian action, where paradoxes and dilemmas of the humanitarian landscape shape the response.

  • Apply theory, methods and reasoning of humanitarian action to plan and implement humanitarian programmes within food, health, shelter, water and sanitation,etc.)

  • Be part of professional and interdisciplinary projects and networks, in which analyses of humanitarian action is a product in its own right or serves as basis for decision-making in an overall project.

  • Build and sustain interdisciplinary and professional relationships and networks in humanitarian action

This Masters level course is open to final-year Bachelors students.

Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
ECTS
5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Course paper
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

To pass the course, the student is expected to: 

Knowledge

  • Describe theories (e.g. complex systems theory) and practices applied to humanitarian action in a global perspective: historical and legal foundations of humanitarian action, the international system in place to support it (e.g. actors and organizations)
     
  • Explain key concepts and terminology of humanitarian action (e.g. hazard, risk, susceptibility, resilience) and different typologies of humanitarian crises (e.g. armed conflict, natural disasters, complex emergencies)
     
  • Explain key concepts and approaches to humanitarian action (e.g. feeding programs, cluster approaches, rights based approaches, advocacy efforts, etc.)
     
  • Refer to recent literature on humanitarian action and lessons learnt from contemporary humanitarian crises, focusing specifically on health, human and social sciences research perspectives. 
     
  • Understand and reflect upon challenges and trends of humanitarian action and their importance for programme planning and implementation
     

Skills

  • Carry out concrete analyses of a humanitarian action using systems theory, methods, key concepts and terminology

  • Carry out focused search, interpretation and synthesis of data and literature relevant to analyze and discuss an approach to humanitarian action

  • Argue for the choice of an approach to a humanitarian action based on a specific issue and a specific case

  • Discuss the potentially harmful implications of choosing a specific approach in a given case of humanitarian action

  • Identify and communicate paradoxes and dilemmas of humanitarian action

  • Present the results of an analysis in oral and written form, including a clear problem statement, discussion and conclusion.

Competencies

  • Plan and carry out analyses of humanitarian action, where paradoxes and dilemmas of the humanitarian landscape shape the response.

  • Apply theory, methods and reasoning of humanitarian action to plan and implement humanitarian programmes within food, health, shelter, water and sanitation,etc.)

  • Be part of professional and interdisciplinary projects and networks, in which analyses of humanitarian action is a product in its own right or serves as basis for decision-making in an overall project.

  • Build and sustain interdisciplinary and professional relationships and networks in humanitarian action

 

  • Category
  • Hours
  • E-Learning
  • 30
  • Excursions
  • 30
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Exercises
  • 20
  • Exam
  • 25
  • English
  • 135