A free online course in Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster is available from Harvard University as part of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and HarvardX. The 5-week course is taught in English and will require approximately 3 to 4 hours per week.
Large-scale humanitarian crises as well as awareness of those crises and the impact on the regions where they occur is on the rise. The course looks at how humanitarian aid can respond to these new challenges.
Humanitarian aid is governed by both professional and ethical principles, and the course will examine those principles as well as how they came about from a legal and historic perspective. They will also analyze whether those principles remain applicable to today’s challenges.
The course is situated in the context of recent or ongoing humanitarian crises. Case studies of humanitarian response in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Balkans and Zoma (Zaire) are used to examine such trends as the role of the military, what happens when a population experiences a rapid displacement and violence faced by aid workers. The course is aimed at participants who have either professional or personal interests in these issues.
Participants who complete the course will gain an understanding of how the professional aspect of the humanitarian field has been shaped by a historical and legal framework. They will understand the underlying principles of humanitarian responses and what conflicts may arise as a result of those principles. They will also understand what trends affect humanitarian work and how the work can be adapted in response to those trends.
Instructors for the course are Jennifer Leaning, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University.
For an additional fee, participants can get a verified Harvard certification.