Design for Humanity Initiative

Exploring the intersection of design and humanitarian action for human dignity

Design in the Time of Displacement Summit Event Title

At a time of heightened and prolonged global calamity, humanitarian actors persistently strive to design sustainable relief and recovery operations that restore dignity and foster resilience of affected populations. Similarly, a growing community of designers from diverse disciplines - ranging from the built environment and emergency architecture to product and graphic design - endeavor to contribute their skills for social change and humanitarian action.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University and the UN Migration Agency (IOM), will explore the intersection of design and humanitarian action by launching the Design for Humanity Initiative.

Through bridging their areas of expertise, both humanitarian and design professionals can more effectively design dignified and durable solutions that tackle today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Whether ensuring more dignified shelters and settlements for displaced persons, designing more inclusive and resilient urban ecosystems or employing art and design as a vehicle for advocacy - the possible synergies between design and humanitarian action are endless.


Through events, research, publications, and collaborative projects, the multi-year Design for Humanity Initiative aims to explore how designers and humanitarians can collaboratively drive humanitarian response in a more dignified, inclusive, and sustainable direction.

Key objectives of the Design for Humanity Initiative will include:

  • Facilitating dialogue among design and humanitarian practitioners as well as representatives of crisis-affected populations, the donor community, and governments
  • Deepening understanding about current complex humanitarian challenges; humanitarian principles and ethics; and possibilities for design innovation;
  • Highlighting potential impact and relevant critiques of a range of piloted and pioneered design projects for humanitarian response;
  • Forging future collaboration, project implementation, and partnership opportunities; and
  • Disseminating lessons learned to a wide audience of designers and humanitarians.

Design for Humanity Summit

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) hosted the Design for Humanity Summit on June 21, 2019 at Fordham University in New York City.