Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Back to Undergraduate Education

Two Week Summer Program: Introduction to Humanitarian Action

two week summer undergraduate program

Introduction to Humanitarian Action: Theory and Practice

June 9th -22nd 2013
Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus




We are pleased to announce our first intensive summer program designed specifically for undergraduate students, Introduction to Humanitarian Action: Theory and Application.  Led by Alexander van Tulleken, M.D., the course will provide undergraduate students with a practical and theoretical introduction to the study of humanitarian action, and will take place at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus located in the heart of New York City.

The course will seek to bridge theory with practice, and will include lectures given by seasoned humanitarian aid professionals.


Humanitarian action, which endeavors to relieve the suffering of populations in crisis, and its ideological counterpart, humanitarianism, are notions that cut across every aspect of contemporary life. In considering how we, as individuals, or how the “international community” might respond to suffering in Libya, the Horn of Africa, or marginalized and disaster affected populations in “the west” we are forced to invoke a wide array of intellectual tools. Ethical, moral, cultural and spiritual considerations confront logistic, economic, demographic and geo-political modes of thought in circumstances of vast complexity: war, famine and natural disaster. Humanitarianism is an area that demands academic inquiry across many disciplines: its objects of fundamental concern are life, death, suffering and freedom.

Yet as an area for academic inquiry it is still in nascent stages. And so humanitarian activities are often shaped by expediency, pragmatism, whim, fashion, cultural assumptions and a technocratic, protocolized approach to addressing suffering rather than a formal, serious inquiry. Fordham has long been a world leader in the academic study of humanitarianism and in professionalizing aid work, and this intensive two-week course aims to continue this essential process; to ask what it means to undertake humanitarian work, to understand how such work can be made more effective, and for whom, and to ask about the nature of suffering and oppression and our obligations to our fellow men. 

This course aims to use the practical aspects of humanitarian aid as the basis of an academic enquiry into global notions of humanitarian action and emergency relief.

At the end of this course students should be able to:

·       Describe the main structures, organizations and systems of humanitarian action;

·       Analyze and discuss the various contexts of humanitarian action (including wars, complex emergencies and natural disasters);

·       Demonstrate familiarity with some technical skills practiced within the humanitarian industry;

·       Interpret those skills using a variety of intellectual and academic frameworks;

·       Understand, evaluate and critique different forms of humanitarian endeavor (including practical aspects of aid work such as feeding programs, cluster surveys and program design and efforts such as witnessing, advocacy and representation);

·       Examine the meaning of different humanitarian activities using a variety of academic disciplines (combining bio-scientific/economic and social/ethnographic frameworks among others) and through multiple perspectives (considering gender, age, human rights, and indigenous cultural approaches);

·       Assimilate and critically evaluate a wide portion of the humanitarian discourse.


This two-week residential program is open to all undergraduate students, including undergraduate students who attend universities participating in the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) and the Network on Humanitarian Assistance (NOHA).

Preference will be given to students with a strong interest in humanitarian affairs.



The cost of the program is $3,900 USD, which includes tuition, course materials, weekday meals and accommodations at the Fordham University Lincoln Center dormitories.



- April 15, 2013

To apply:

1. Complete the Application

2. Upload a one-page cover letter, demonstrating your interest in humanitarian affairs.

3. Upload a current résumé or C.V.

If you have any questions, please contact Laura Risimini at



Site  | Directories
Submit Search Request