At new Humanitarian Academy, disaster responders will learn best practices

A new comprehensive training program for humanitarian workers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) aims to help thousands around the world who work in war zones, help in the wake of natural disasters, or serve in other relief settings.

The Humanitarian Academy at Harvard will be offered through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), a University-wide center that uses research to improve aid response. The Academy will include the Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative, an existing training program for humanitarian professionals that was recently expanded through a gift from Harvard alumni Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine. There also will be a new, interdisciplinary concentration in humanitarian studies, ethics, and human rights, to be offered at HSPH beginning in 2013, and hands-on training through internships with relief agencies.

“We need a way to prepare people like me,” said HHI director Michael VanRooyen in a May 7, 2012 Harvard Gazette article. VanRooyen developed his own humanitarian expertise on the job in places like Somalia, Haiti, and Congo. “The consequences of our ignorance affect the lives of an enormous number of people.”

Read the Harvard Gazette article

Learn more

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