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Harvard University

Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster

Harvard University via edX


From the Syrian refugee crisis to the West Africa Ebola outbreak, humanitarian emergencies have reached unprecedented dimensions and proportions. As need for humanitarian aid grows, how can efforts to alleviate human suffering evolve with it?

This course from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and HarvardX seeks to prepare learners to recognize and analyze emerging challenges in the humanitarian field. The course explores the ethical and professional principles that guide humanitarian response to conflict and disaster. Participants will learn the legal and historical frameworks that shaped these principles, test their applicability to the challenges faced by humanitarian actors today.

Through four case studies covering the responses to crises in Goma (Zaire), Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Pakistan, participants will engage with Harvard faculty, current practitioners, and one another. These cases introduce major trends affecting the current landscape of humanitarian response – including rapid population displacement, violence against aid workers, and civil-military engagement. Thoughtfully engaging with this course will prepare participants to be informed and aware humanitarian practitioners, scholars, policy-makers, and global citizens.

Taught by

Jennifer Leaning and Michael VanRooyen MD, MPH


4.8 rating, based on 9 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at edX based on 71 ratings

Start your review of Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster

  • Profile image for Alena Sekeráková
    Alena Sekeráková
    I really enjoyed this course - especially I am glad for participation of people from really different fields who has different personal and professional points of view (as teachers and participants so even discussions were really interesting).
    Thank you for your job HardvardX, it really worth it!
  • This e-learning series is specially designed for humanitarian workers who actually face critical situations in field during conflict situations and humanitarian crises.
  • Mohamed Mohamoud Mohamed
    course is about learning how to learn. I think this course is essential for every person in the world wants to learn anything. we should first learn what “learning” means. that can affect my whole life not only my career. In general, I am interested…
  • Muito bom curso desde os tempos que já se foi, a situação humanitária deve ser o epicentro de todos humanos por forma a suprir várias calamidades desde desastres naturais, guerras, actualmente a situação de Covid19 e as mudanças climáticas que estão deixando pobreza absoluta nas diversas comunidades no mundo.
  • Anonymous
    Amazing course, with a quick technical and theoretical review followed by an in depth practical analysis of real world scenarios. I would suggest this course to anyone looking into the international stage; or anyone looking to deepen their knowledge of foreign policy.
    As I had have only attended different trainings sessions in humanitarian sectors such as in refugees camps, I would like to refresh my skills and to know further about Humanitarian Aid in different conflicts areas and how to address the situation. Thank you.
  • Jaime António Saía
    First at all, it's very important course to give tools to understand the main of humanitarian disasters and how we can manager to deal weed this matters.
  • Dana Szilagyi

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