Human Security

Certificate Director: Eileen F. Babbitt

The certificate in human security provides guidance in course selection for those seeking a deeper professional understanding of the interactions among four fields of social change: development, conflict resolution, human rights, and humanitarian assistance. Traditionally, practitioners and researchers seeking to promote social change across borders have tended to specialize in only one of these domains. As a result, they are often unaware of the positive or negative impact their actions may have upon the dynamics in the other fields, and vice versa.

However, in many real-world situations, any progress made in one without attention to the others risks being sub-optimal at best and is often un-sustainable, since people who live in situations of extreme deprivation often face all these conditions simultaneously. Their lives are characterized by a combination of severe poverty, vulnerability to economic shocks, social exclusion, discrimination, and daily assaults on their human dignity, all frequently in a context of widespread violence and insecurity and accompanying violations of human rights.

In short, policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, and activists everywhere are coming to realize the urgent need for insights about the overlaps and interactions between the fields of development cooperation, humanitarianism, conflict resolution, and human rights advocacy. They need leaders and staff who are able to collaborate with people from other areas of expertise, a better ability to anticipate the likely impact that actions in one field may have on other fields, and innovative strategies that cut across traditional professional borders.

A number of governments and international organizations use the term "human security” to bring together the concerns and practices that deal with the many faces of, and close relations between, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Under this rubric is a broad variety of issues and trends, but they all share a) a desire to cross boundaries between fields of social change usually treated separately, and b) a strong ultimate focus on the inclusive well-being of all human beings. The Certificate in Human Security will be based on these principles.

Students who graduate with the certificate in human security will possess a deep understanding of the core issues and challenges that underlie all action for international social change, and be capable of leading inter-disciplinary teams for policy-making, research, field action, or advocacy. The Certificate builds on the strengths of The Fletcher School and its colleagues at Tufts in all four of these areas.

The Certificate in Human Security consists of: 1) four introductory courses, which will acquaint students with each of the four fields whose concerns and methodologies need to be understood within a human security framework; 2) two capstone courses laying out the cross-disciplinary framework; 3) two courses allowing students to gain some degree of further specialization in one of the relevant fields; 4) an internship designed to deepen the students’ understanding of the operational challenges of interdisciplinary work; and 5) completion of a Capstone Project whose subject matter falls within the realm of human security.

1. Core (4 required)

Reflecting the overall interdisciplinary structure of The Fletcher School, the Certificate requires four introductory courses that have been selected in such a way as to provide a solid foundation for a cross-disciplinary professional practice in human security. These courses are:

Humanitarian Assistance: 




Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies  
Development: E242



Development Economics: Micro Perspectives


Development Aid in Practice

Human Rights: L210 International Human Rights Law
Conflict Resolution: 


Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution

If students can demonstrate prior proficiency at any of these domains (whether through prior study or through professional experience), they will receive permission to substitute a more advanced course (for example, substitute L211 for L210). If one of the courses is not available in any year, another course may be substituted with the consent of the Certificate Director.

Students are expected to take at least three of these course credits during their first year of study.

2. Capstone Courses (two required)

Students will take two cross-disciplinary courses analyzing the theoretical and methodological implications of crossing the boundaries between the fields. Each of these courses will deal in detail with the way various perspectives have been brought to bear on specific issues of social change across borders. For the Academic Year 2014-2015, the courses available are:

Gender, Culture and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
Transitional Justice

Under exceptional circumstances, another course may be substituted with permission of the Certificate Director.

3. Specialization 

The two final courses for the Certificate will be chosen from the following list. They allow students to acquire more depth in one or two areas of relevance to the Certificate.

Humanitarian Assistance: D213 Essentials of Humanitarian Action in the Field
  D237  Nutrition in Complex Emergencies: Policies, Practice and Decision-Making
Forced Migration
Development: B241
Financial Inclusion – A Method for Development

Development Economics: Macroeconomic Perspectives

Development Economics: Policy Analysis
Law and Development
  P226m Evaluation of Peacebuilding and Development for Practitioners and Donors
Sustainable Development Diplomacy
Human Rights: L211 Current Issues in Human Rights
  L212 Nationalism, Self-Determination and Minority Rights
Conflict Resolution: D207
Religion and Conflict in International Relations: Policymaking Assumptions, Analysis, and Design
Peace Operations
Rule of Law in Post Conflict Societies

4. Internship or Prior Professional Experience

Students enrolled in the Certificate in Human Security will benefit greatly if they acquire some first-hand professional exposure to the issues concerned. For that reason, students will spend the summer between their first and second year doing an internship that directly relates to the mandate of the Certificate. The choice of the internship has to be approved by the Certificate Director. 

5. Capstone Project: Deepening the Understanding

Students will complete their Capstone Project on a subject relating to the Human Security agenda, subject to approval of the Certificate Director. Students can work with the Capstone Project supervisor of their choice. 

Please visit the Fletcher Registrar's Office (Goddard 212) to pick-up the Human Security Certificate form, which will need to be completed by you, as well as approved by the Certificate Director in advance of the All Degree Requirements Completed deadline.

Questions regarding ADMISSION and/or to receive a CATALOG and APPLICATION can be sent to the Admissions Office at: mailto:FletcherAdmissions@tufts.edu

This page was updated: July 2014


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