Why Humanitarian Studies?

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Incoming HSPH and Harvard Graduate students interested in the Humanitarian Studies Concentration can now complete a short application for enrollment here.

Enroll in Concentration

For more information, we encourage incoming and returning students to join us for the virtual info session.

The Interdisciplinary Concentration in Humanitarian Studies provides an organized program of study that focuses on the normative underpinnings and practice of humanitarian response.  The curriculum covers a broad range of areas including civilian protection, international humanitarian law, human rights, disaster response, coordinated aid, crisis dynamics, sector-based assistance, health and human security of internally displaced people, geopolitical context, monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning, situation analysis, ethics and standards.  Upon successful completion of the concentration, students will be prepared to assume research, leadership and managerial roles within the global humanitarian community.

The concentration is managed through the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard, a University-wide project based at the Harvard School of Public Health. The Academy is the first global center of its kind – dedicated to educating and training current and future generations of humanitarian leaders in the areas of disaster response, humanitarian service delivery, crisis leadership, human rights and other dimensions of thinking and acting in acute settings affecting large populations. The Academy is the educational arm of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and supported by major departments within the School, as well as by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. Its aim is to educate and train the next generation of leaders in ways to anticipate and respond to a wide range of crises, such as war, armed conflict, and disaster, that expose individuals, families, and large populations to serious risk of harm.  Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to develop and implement strategies of early ascertainment, immediate and longer term response, and post-crisis recovery.

The Humanitarian Studies Concentration distinguishes itself  in several important capacities:

  • A multi-disciplinary and integrated curriculum that leverages Academy resources and networks within the  humanitarian community
  • Breadth and depth of faculty at the forefront of their respective fields
  • Experiential / hands-on learning opportunities
  • Curriculum based on evidence and experience in the application of norms and science to achieve best practice in humanitarian response

Students with an interest in developing expertise in humanitarian studies through the completion of an integrated curriculum and connection to the humanitarian community at Harvard are encouraged to apply.