Tuesday, December 7th, 2010...9:00 am

Introduction to Humanitarian Engagement Practicum Offered this January 17-28

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Course Number:  IPOL-8657  

Instructor:     Steven Hansch
Course Duration:   January 17 through January 29, 2009 
Class Hours:          Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5 pm. 
Humanitarian emergencies of the future will affect an expanding range of political, economic and social structures and require a creative and more integrated approach to effective response.  A primary objective for future humanitarian professionals will be to understand and anticipate relevant risks and conditions as they emerge in the context of this dynamic environment.  

This course covers four main categories of humanitarian crisis:  natural disasters, famine, mass forced migration (e.g. refugees), and complex emergencies (including violent conflict).
This “Humanitarian Assistance” J-term course is designed to enable students to move from mainly classroom academics to understanding the realities of humanitarian work.  It will expose students to a range of technical skills that are valuable for managing and implementing assistance in emergencies, working with non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and other response entities. 

Students will be exposed to skills, case studies (historical examples of large emergencies), coordination issues, funding and budget considerations, and evaluation tools. 

Key skills covered will include logistics, communications, nutrition, food aid, water supply, camp design, sanitation, basic education, shelter design, primary health care, public health and environmental health.

Students will also be exposed to institutions presently involved with program work or the analysis of the humanitarian enterprise.  Distinctions will be drawn between major NGOs and UN agencies.  Students will also examine the patterns of performance of major donors.

Finally, students will engage in and debate about decision-making and moral conundrums that occur in humanitarian response:  triage, neutrality, protection vs. aid tradeoffs, access, political independence, etc.

Case studies that will be reviewed include Bosnia (1991-95), Kosovo (1999), Somalia, Darfur, Ethiopia, Colombia, Haiti, El Salvador (1981-1991), Afghanistan, Burma, Lebanon, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, and North Korea, as well as others.

Required Reading / Viewing  
Two core textbooks will be referenced often:   1) the SPHERE Humanitarian Assistance and Minimum Standards (available for download) and,
2) Famine, Conflict and Response (by Fred Cuny, Kumarian Press).

Select articles, publications and online video clips will be provided to students either in hard copy or in electronic format in advance of and / or during sessions. Students will receive a DVD with core readings and reference readings, as well as videos to watch outside of class.
Two major videos that are required viewing outside of class are:
• The Hunger Business (channel 4 TV, London, 2000), 90 minutes
• Who does what in humanitarian aid (original for the class), 70 minutes

Typical Session Structure
Sessions will be a combination of lecture and discussion.  Many in-class discussions will be on the application of skills to specific case studies.  Internet-based audio-visual presentations and on-line interviews will be used extensively to facilitate outreach to the working humanitarian community. Periodically, students will be expected to prepare reports for classroom discussion or exchanges with the cooperating institutions.

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