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M.S. in Humanitarian Studies Courses

Required Courses

Fundamentals of Humanitarian Action (3 credits)
This course will introduce you to the principles of humanitarian action through three modules on (1) Defining Humanitarian Assistance, (2) Management, and (3) Strategic Planning. The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the critical aspects of international humanitarian coordination from an organizational perspective.

Contemporary Issues in Humanitarian Action (3 credits)
This course will introduce you to the pressing issues and acute challenges of contemporary humanitarian response through three modules on (1) Threats and Vulnerabilities; (2) Accountability in Humanitarian Response; and (3) Innovations in Humanitarian Response. The aim of the course is to examine how the international community forms consensus regarding best practices, and how this, in turn, informs humanitarian interventions.

Information Management (3 credits)
This course will introduce you to the principles and strategies behind the effective flow of information in a humanitarian setting. Gathering and managing information is crucial in order to understand the cause of the emergency, identify impacted populations, and determine crisis-afflicted geographical locations. The aim of this course is for you to understand the components of a successful information management network within a humanitarian intervention and identify how information can contribute to future preparedness.

Humanitarian Resource Management & Administration (3 credits)
This course will introduce you to the operational aspects of humanitarian response and focus primarily on the role of human resources (HR) and financial management. In response to the continuing professionalization of the humanitarian sector, this course will provide you with a common understanding of hiring practices, budget management, and donor relations in a humanitarian intervention.

Monitoring & Evaluation in Humanitarian Response (3 credits)
This course will introduce you to the principles and theoretical frameworks behind data collection and analysis in the context of humanitarian response. It will cover qualitative and quantitative research methods used in humanitarian program monitoring and evaluation (M&E). The aim is to give you an overview of basic methodologies utilized in the field as well as the tools to determine appropriate M&E strategies in various humanitarian settings.

Concentration Courses

(choose a concentration and complete 12 credits in that area)

Human Rights

Protection for Vulnerable Populations (3 credits)
This course provides you with a comprehensive introduction to international practices and norms concerning the protection of vulnerable populations in humanitarian emergencies. The past 20 years of international humanitarian interventions has given rise to standardization of humanitarian activities, with a particular emphasis on protection practices. You will gain an understanding of the landscape of organizations and entities involved in designing these frameworks (e.g. Sphere Standards; Responsibility to Protect) and assess their efficacy and continued relevance to protecting vulnerable groups..

Access to Education During Crisis and Conflict (3 credits)
You will explore and analyze the growing field of education in emergencies. With as many as 40 million children living in countries affected by crisis and conflict it has become increasingly important for humanitarian practitioners to understand the complexities of planning and implementing educational programming in these settings. Building on the theoretical frameworks covered in the core courses, you will evaluate the relationships between education, international development and humanitarian aid through the use of theoretical texts and case studies from around the globe.

Independent Study (1 to 3 credits)
Under the direction of a faculty mentor, you will pursue an independent study project not directly related to an existing course.

Alternative and Advocacy Journalism (3 credits)
In this course you will learn how to produce, aggregate, and disseminate journalistic content with the explicit goal of making disadvantaged communities better informed, connected to one another, and able to influence policy decisions. You will focus the voice-giving role played by citizen journalism, giving special attention to the content, economics, and community-building role played by ethnic minorities, youth, homeless, or the incarcerated in a digital media era.

Conflict Resolution (3 credits)
This course focuses on the nature of international and regional conflict during the post-Cold War period. Topics will include: analysis of the causes of contemporary conflicts; assessment of current international, regional and national approaches to conflict resolution; psychological implications of civil and ethnic conflicts; challenges of multiparty international mediation; and consideration of the role played by international, regional and community level institutions in addressing conflicts. Particular emphasis will be placed on what theories and ideas actually work in practice.

Trauma & Family Violence (3 credits)
This course will examine the causes and effects of trauma and family violence, such as child abuse and neglect, rape, and domestic violence. Diagnostic assessment, prevention and treatment issues will be emphasized.

Contemporary Social Theory (3 credits)
This course focuses on the recent approaches in the theoretical approaches of the social sciences in the US and Western Europe including Marxism, behaviorism, phenomenology, and structuralism.

Communities and Capacity Building

Disaster Risk Reduction (3 credits)
This course will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the phases of humanitarian action in order to understand strategies for disaster risk reduction (DRR). Emphasis will be placed on the multifaceted nature of disasters and complex emergencies and the need for community participation as well as local, regional and international coordination. You will be introduced and encouraged to critique DRR guidelines as well as recognize the sources of recognized best practices.

Gender Integration in Humanitarian Action (3 credits)
You will examine the myriad ways in which gender impacts the experience of both the humanitarian crisis and subsequent intervention. You will explore the legal, political, cultural and economic frameworks that contribute to gender inequality as well as those that provide support for vulnerable groups. Emphasis will be placed on the tension between international guidelines/norms, program implementation, and unanticipated consequences of gender programming.

Independent Study (1 to 3 credits)
Under the direction of a faculty mentor, you will pursue an independent study project not directly related to an existing course.

Epidemics and Development (3 credits)
This course focuses on the study of epidemics in developing countries, their transmission, control and governmental policy.

Persuasion and Public Opinion (3 credits)
This course blends theory and practice to explore techniques for influencing others to change their attitudes or behavior in order to accomplish specified goals. Working in multiple contexts, the course is designed to help you better analyze and evaluate persuasive messages in several social and political arenas; recognize opportunities for influence, and employ effective strategies for convincing others and building support. You will also learn more versatile persuasion techniques across a variety of communication channels and media platforms.

International Communication (3 credits)
You will select at least two issues that involve many countries and determine how communication theories could effectively address them. Examples of issues include hunger, food security, internet governance, trade policy, health care, and terrorism. The course will cover how experts communicate their knowledge effectively; the effects of cultural traditions on perception; and the outcomes on communications processes created by changes of the medium. You will also analyze the role of nation-states, transnational corporations and non-government institutions, and current trends in globalization.

Global Mental Health (3 credits)
This course provides a survey of models, mechanisms, and critiques surrounding global mental health. Materials are drawn from the burgeoning global mental health literature; transcultural psychiatry; post conflict psychosocial mental health field; and mental health capacity building. You will study methods of analysis, research design techniques, and approaches.

Global Cities (3 credits)
This course investigates the emergence of “global cities” and addresses the impact of changes in the global economy; urban population and migration trends; and the effects of inequality on the cultural, environmental, and political fabric of cities. The course also examines urban planning and policymaking, including their potential to improve urban spaces in this century. You will explore these topics through a wide range of theoretical perspectives: urbanism, globalization, world systems, and political economy.

Livelihoods and Institutions

Urban Disasters and Displacement (3 credits)
You will engage in an overview of global urbanization trends and explore the challenges created by urban disasters, particularly in areas with a high number of displaced and unregistered populations. The course will analyze the current humanitarian response within these urban settings, while discussing existing best practices and potential opportunities to increase the resilience and sustainability of affected communities in both formal and informal urban settlements.

International Responses to Migration (3 credits)
This course provides you with an enhanced awareness and understanding of the complex interaction between migration and humanitarian interventions from the point of view of migrant communities, national authorities, and international humanitarian agencies. As the forced migration phenomena continues to accelerate, the motivations and determinants of action that shape local and global responses will be examined. You will be encouraged to critique the influence and motivations of mass and social media on the understanding of the economic, political, legal, and cultural factors of migration.

Independent Study (1 to 3 credits)
Under the direction of a faculty mentor, you will pursue an independent study project not directly related to an existing course.

Environmental History (3 credits)
This course examines the growing body of literature explaining the relationship between human society and the natural world. You will focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, but will not be limited to any one area geographically. The heart of this course will be an examination of how people have transformed natural landscapes and, in turn, how these constructed landscapes have affected human identities.

Migration, Microfinance, and Poverty (3 credits)
Migration, access to credit (microfinance) and remittances can create employment and education opportunities for poor families, particularly women. Interdisciplinary case studies from Mexico, Dominican Republic, the Bronx, Amsterdam, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, and India show how race, class, and gender affect employment outcomes.

Foreign Aid and Development (3 credits)
This course examines both the economic and the political role of foreign aid in development. Economic topics may include economic growth, agricultural development, food aid, the environment, health, education, and emergencies. Political topics may include alliance building, conflict resolution, and governance.

Ethics and Economics (3 credits)
You will focus on an exploration of contemporary economic social issues with the aid of Catholic social teaching, and with a critical use of economic analysis. Issues to be examined include, but are not limited to, poverty, pollution control, protectionism, unemployment, and inflation.

Ecological Ethics (3 credits)
This course considers the rise of ecological consciousness, environmental history, and ethical reflection in light of western philosophical and theological traditions. It aims to provide you with substantial, foundational knowledge in 20th and 21st century environmental thoughts as well as emerging approaches to global environmental problems.

Issues in Urban Studies (3 credits)
You will be introduced to current debates in urban studies and modern urban theory. Themes covered include: immigration, race & ethnicity, urban culture & history, urban sociology, urban planning, and globalization.