Curricular Innovation Program

Often, there are important lessons that cannot be adequately taught using a traditional lecture format. Successful humanitarian practitioners need to actively test and experiment to develop skills and confidence in dynamic situations. For these reasons some courses require new digital platforms or simulation exercises that can better capture the realities and complexities of humanitarian practice. With a focus on the case method and analytical decision-making, the Curricular Innovation Program is committed to fusing rich course content with experiential education.

Immersive training experiences are at the core of a successful and coordinated emergency response, but this requires active and early investment in creative resources and educational infrastructure. With funding through the Weintz Family Humanitarian edX Seed Fund, the Curricular Innovation Program has been designed to meet this challenge.

Interactive Case Module Library

The Humanitarian Academy at Harvard Interactive Case Library will be one of the first repositories of highly immersive / multimedia-driven teaching tools to focus on lessons learned and best practices associated with key humanitarian responses. Natural disaster and conflict-based contexts demand exceptional crisis leadership from humanitarian practitioners during a response, this is why the Humanitarian Academy's Case’s are designed to let students practice in the roll of a key decision-maker by providing them with both theoretical instruction and primary source media carefully curated to strengthen data analysis and executive decision-making.

Within the next year students at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health will have access to six case modules in a growing library with upcoming titles including: MSF in Srebrenica: Situational Awareness During Armed Conflict; and Cyclones of Bangladesh: Preparedness, Population and Climate Change.

Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster

HarvardX Online Course

With an unprecedented number of five level-three emergencies currently requiring humanitarian response this is a watershed moment for the humanitarian community. There are heated questions and concerns among globally diverse communities of academics, practitioners, and policy makers concerning the evolving role of humanitarian action. For this reason in partnership with HarvardX, Dr. VanRooyen and Dr. Leaning led the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the Humanitarian Studies concentration of the Academy to design Humanitarian Response: Principles and Controversies.

This open online course will offer graduate students, humanitarian practitioners and educated learners an opportunity to examine the difficult application of humanitarian principles within the context of conflict-based responses. Through anecdotal interviews, data visualization and case based instruction; students will gain an understanding of the historical precedents, best practices, and limitations of guiding principles during humanitarian operations.

More information on the course can be found here. 


Director of Humanitarian Studies, Ethics, and Human Rights Graduate Concentration / Facullty
Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative