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OADH 3030 - Advanced Humanitarian Workshop

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

Humanitarian issues have become a routine component of news and analysis, of the way we see the world. Yet they have simultaneously become harder to define with precision. Non Governmental Organizations, the standard humanitarian structures, now number well over thousands. This proliferation is a signal component of a larger phenomenon. Fundraising, the sheer scope and number of interventions are others. All these, suggesting a healthy and growing industry, have also led, maybe paradoxically, to a growing unease among all stakeholders: donors, private and institutional, NGOs, governments. In its modern acception, humanitarianism was born in Biafra in 1968. From there to the “military humanitarian interventions” in Kosovo, Timor Leste and, to a certain extent, in Iraq, there is a range of attitudes that appear to encompass virtually all types of interaction with power, from opposition to cooperation, through negotiation and instrumentalisation. As the number of stakeholders in the humanitarian agenda has skyrocketed, so has the diversity of interpretations. For some, the concept falls within the relatively narrow range of emergencies and the Geneva conventions; for others, nothing less than international governance is at stake. Is humanitarianism political in nature? Should it support national or international governance, or should it refrain from engaging in public action? The concept intuitively remains meaningful, but for such a wide array of reasons that no one really remembers why. The focus of this course is to address these issues through an examination of humanitarian practice: actors, actions, relying on case studies and role plays. Students will explore scenarios based on real situations, designed to identify: - Decision points; - The importance of organizational values and culture; - The range of perspectives to be found among participants in humanitarian action; - The variety of potential outcomes stemming from the interaction of the above components. The coursework is mainly practical (see workload), with 5 role play sessions organized every other class. The class will be divided in three groups, who will debate each other during the role plays. Each group will be lead by a rotating team leader for each debate.


PERSICHINO, Roger (Formateur)

Pedagogical format

Aside from class 1 and, to a lesser extent, class 2, all classes are structured in the same way: - A one hour session, with students debating the scenario at hand; - A ½ hour follow up, debriefing on the outcome of discussions and presenting the actual outcome in the real case; - A ½ hour preparation for the next session, introducing key concepts and stakeholders.

Course validation

Students will be graded on two components: - Participation, including in Role Plays when they are not team leaders. This will contribute to 50% of the final grade. - Team Leader contributions for role plays sessions, also contributing to 50% of the final grade. Contributions will have to be presented in written format, to be specified in session 1.


The course workload is contingent on how much participants are willing to invest in the preparation of the debates. Feedback from previous workshops suggest that solid preparation is demanding but highly rewarding.

Required reading

  • Crombé, Xavier, and Jézéquel, Jean-Hervé, Eds.: A Not-So Natural Disaster, Niger 2005, Hurst and Company, London: 2005
  • Humanitarian Policy Group: A clash of principles? Humanitarian action and the search for stability in Pakistan, Briefing paper - HPG Policy Briefs 36, September 2009
  • Macrae, J. and Leader, N. : The Politics of Coherence, Humanitarianism and Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era, Humanitarian Practice Group, ODI, London: 2000 4.
  • Andrews K. and Edwards B.: Advocacy Organizations in the U.S. Political Process, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30, Issue 1, 2004, pp. 479 – 506
  • Polletta, Francesca and Kai Ho, M.: Frames and their Consequences, Ch. 10 in Goodin and Tilly 2006

Additional required reading

Additional readings will vary per group and per debate. They will mostly constitute of “gray literature documents”

Plans de cours et bibliographies