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About The Field

The past three decades have witnessed a major transformation of humanitarian action. These changes have triggered heated debates about philosophical, analytical and operational issues within the humanitarian community. The range of humanitarian actors has broadened to include the military and, increasingly, for-profit firms. A range of humanitarian actors and agencies has emerged from the Middle East and the global South, alongside or outside of the traditional Western, UN-led humanitarian system. Long-held principles are questioned or discarded, with humanitarian action no longer seen by many belligerents as either neutral or impartial. Some 400,000 people are employed in humanitarian work around the world today. The agencies they work for spend close to $30 billion/year and they are present, on the ground in all of the political, economic and environmental crisis events we are familiar with. This field of study seeks to equip students with an understanding of both how these crisis environments evolve, how communities caught up in them survive and what role the international aid system plays in that survival. Students will take away from the field an understanding of the nature of humanitarian crises, the structure and functioning of the humanitarian (eco)system, and an understanding and critique of the humanitarian aid system. Various skills-related courses complement a core curriculum of humanitarian studies courses.

Students should refer to the Registrar's Field of Study Guide for definitive field requirements in a given academic year.

Outside the Classroom

  • New Battlefields, New Actors and New Weapons: Challenges of Humanitarian Protection in the 21st Century
  • War from the Victims' Perspective: Photographs by Jean Mohr
  • Lecture by Ambassador Martin Dahinden: War from the Victims' Perspective
  • ICRC Workshop on International Humanitarian Law and Policy
  • Planning for Impact - ICRC Experience in Responding to Mutating Crises
  • Supply Chains for Relief and Development Converge: Case Study of the Ebola Response in Liberia
  • The Ebola Crisis from Outbreak to Stamp Out -- Lessons for the Future
  • Feinstein Center's Roxanne Krystalli: Integrating a Gender Perspective Into Research
  • The View from Washington: What is the U.S. Department of State Doing to Promote Democracy and Human Rights?
  • Joint IDP Profiling Service meeting
  • Hitachi Center Speaker Series: Book Talk: "Digital Humanitarians"
  • The Dynamics of Complex Recovery Processes: Rebuilding Aceh and Nias after the Tsunami
  • Panel Discussion: From Refugee to ResettlementCode Red: The Emergency Business of International Humanitarian Aid - Landon Greenhalgh, Founder and CEO, Global Emergency Group
  • UNHCR - Conakry, Guinea
  • The Asia Foundation - Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Save the Children - Gao, Mali
  • International Rescue Committee - Monrovia, Liberia
  • CARE International - Arua, Uganda
  • Catholic Relief Services - Washington, DC
  • USAID - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • USAID - Maputo, Mozambique
  • Search for Common Ground - Yangon, Myanmar
  • Center for Civilians in Conflict - Washington, DC
  • Mercy Corps - Bamako, Mali
  • "Global Acute Malnutrition Among Children in Karamoja"
  • "When Do We Get to Peace? Patterns of Gender-Based Violence in Post-Conflict Liberia"
  • "If We Could Hear & Read Their Stories: A Comparative Analysis of Perpetrator Patterns & Community Responses to Sexual Violence in Liberia & Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo"
  • "A GIS-Based Analysis of Adherence to Minimum Humanitarian Standards in the Planning of Za'atari and Azraq Refugee Camps, Jordan"
  • "Creating Obstacles to Peace: The International Involvement in Darfur"
  • "Unraveling the Paradox: The Resilience of Women's Rights Activism in Iran within the Context of a Changing Political Environment"
  • "Conceptualizing Climate Change Migration: A Literature Review and Analysis of the State of the Field and its Implications"
  • "One For All and All For One: Intra-Organizational Dynamics in Humanitarian Action" "Never Again? The Failure of the International Community and the Media During the Rwanda Genocide"
  • "Of Peace and Justice: The Impact of Human Rights in Peacemaking"
  • "Towards a Framework for Culturally-Sensitive Psychosocial Interventions in the Population of Internally Displaced Sudanese"
  • "The Right to a Fair Trial in States of Emergencies: Non-Derogable Aspects of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights"
Student Groups
  • Syria Crisis Working Group
  • Fletcher Food Policy Club
  • Fletcher Humanitarian Action Society
  • Global Health Group
  • Global Women
  • Human Rights Project
  • International Development Group
  • The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance
  • International Migration Group
  • Praxis: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security