Humanitarian Response Intensive Course

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

COVID-19 Update: 2020 Workshop Cancelled

Due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, Harvard University has cancelled the Humanitarian Response Intensive Course scheduled for April 21 - May 3, 2020 in Cambridge, MA.

The workshop will be held again in April of 2021.


The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is offered each year to professionals from around the world at Harvard University. Through presentations and hands-on table top exercises offered by faculty and guest lecturers who are experts in their topic areas, participants will gain familiarity with the primary frameworks in the humanitarian field (human rights, livelihoods, Sphere standards, international humanitarian law) and will focus on practical issues that arise in the field, such as personal and team security, rapid assessments, application of minimum standards for food security, shelter, WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and operational approaches to relations with the military in humanitarian settings. Throughout the class, students will participate in pre-assigned learning teams to complete in-class projects designed to compliment a humanitarian case study. At the conclusion of class, student teams will present an aid delivery proposal designed to meet the needs of the population portrayed in the humanitarian case study.

Classes will be held in English. To successfully participate in the course, we recommend that participants have at least a B2 English language level (CEFR).


Participants will utilize knowledge of the humanitarian field gained in the classroom learning sessions during a three-day field simulation exercise. Attendees will spend two nights in the forest and participate in a complicated disaster and conflict scenario. During the simulation, participants will work in teams representing different humanitarian nongovernmental organizations and will engage with a wide range of local and non-state actors (roles developed and filled by faculty, course alumni, and affiliates) to create a service delivery plan.

The simulation will be held rain or shine. 

Course Fees

Standard Registration: $2950

Students / Residents: $2700*

*must provide proof of Medical Residency or enrollment in academic institution

The Course Fee can be paid via credit card in the online registration portal. 

Course fees will cover the classroom training (breakfast, lunch and course materials) as well as participation in the disaster simulation exercise (meals, tent and shared equipment rentals included). Proof of employment and/or citizenship may be required for certain registration discounts. Formal confirmation of enrollment will be sent upon receipt of course fees and review of requested registration materials. Course fees can be paid via credit card. The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is a self-funded program and all participants are required to pay a registration fee.

Accommodations and travel are not included in the course fee.

Please note that your registration is not completed and your space in the workshop is not guaranteed until payment has been received in full. 

Participant from Developing Country Scholarship

This year, we are offering a limited number of full scholarships for participants from developing countries. This scholarship only covers the workshop registration fee - participants are still required to cover their own travel and accommodations during the workshop.

The scholarship application deadline was October 1, 2019. We are no longer accepting scholarship applications at this time. 

We will be sending results by the end of October. Please note that if you are not selected, you can still register for the Humanitarian Response Intensive Course under the standard registration rate.

If you have any questions, please email

Policies and Frequently Asked Questions

For more information and answers to your questions, including payment and cancellation policies, please see a page of frequently asked questions and policies for the course. 

Select Topics covered in the course

  • Rapid Assessment
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Shelter and Site Management
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Budgeting and Finance
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Food Aid and Nutrition
  • Media Training

View a full agenda from a previous year here

Contact Us

All questions, cancellations, and deferment requests should be submitted to: