Synchornous Online, Fall 2023, First 5-weeks, 1-credit module, T/Th 2:30-3:45pm, SEEC N126

Instructor: Carlo Salvinelli

Course Description

Working toward sustainable solutions requires close coordination among humanitarian and development agencies. Too often this has been hampered by artificial divides. Momentum is building to address this gap and foster greater join-up, and it is critical that professionals from both sector understand the principles that guide humanitarian aid. This course will give an overview of the main principles, standards, and key stakeholders involved in humanitarian response. The course explores the ethical and professional principles that guide humanitarian response to conflict and disaster. Students will learn the legal and historical frameworks that shaped these principles, and test their applicability to the challenges faced by humanitarian actors today. Disaster definition and classification will be presented and the different phases of disaster and crisis management will be analyzed with emphasis on the disaster risk reduction and resilience perspective. The importance of community engagement and accountability will be presented as well as methods to assess community resilience. Both the management of immediate post-disaster humanitarian assistance and the dynamics of longer-term community recovery will be considered.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the global system of humanitarian assistance and aid.
  • Understand the opportunities and challenges of the humanitarian-development nexus.
  • Discuss the theory and practice of the various phases of emergency management.

Course Calendar




Humanitarian Principles and Humanitarian-Development Nexus

Humanitarian Reform and Architecture


Case Study: Haiti 2010

The Sphere Standards


Placing global standards in local context

Protracted Crisis


Case Study: Somalia 2011

The Humanitarian Program Cycle


The Cluster Approach

Planning and Funding the Humanitarian Response


Class participation (20% of final grade): class participation is an essential component of the requirements for successful completion of this course. Points for class participation are not simply guaranteed by attendance (which is required); participation consists of being present in class, reading all assignments prior to the beginning of class, and being an active member in class discussions and presentations.

Essays and presentations (each is 15% of final grade, 60% total): Students will write essays and present in class about assigned readings and case studies. Directions will be given in class and posted in Canvas.

Sphere Standards e-learning courses (20% of final grade): Take the Sphere e-learning courses "How to be a Sphere Champion" and "The Sphere Handbook in Action" and upload the certificate of completion in Canvas.