Harvard University Winter Field Study Course in the Middle East 2019

Event Date:
January 1, 2018

Amman, Jordan

Humanitarian Negotiation on the Frontlines: A Critical Review of the Regional and International Response
Amman, Jordan
IGA-353M / GHP-543

APPLY TO COURSE: https://bit.ly/2NAE646 (applications accepted until September 24 at 11:59 PM EST)

Since 2006, Claude Bruderlein and his team have developed an experiential field-based learning program for graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard Law School. Students from other schools are welcome to apply. The course involves a field mission of 18 days to Jordan for 15 students and 2 instructors during the Winter session. While the course takes place in Jordan, its focus covers the larger response to the Syrian crisis.

The purpose of the Winter Field Study Course in the Middle East to bring graduate students to examine strategic approaches for navigating the long-term challenges and dilemmas of some of the most complex political and humanitarian issues. The course approaches these case studies as a means to furthering professional dialogue on complex issues, building exchanges between Harvard University graduate students and practitioners in the region, and to shed light on the challenges of engaging in key dilemmas in the context of humanitarian action. Such contexts represent an extremely interesting and sophisticated political, social, legal, and policy environment for graduate students to explore and analyze the various agendas and situational factors through interdisciplinary, scientific lenses.

Following successful Winter Field Study Courses examining timely humanitarian issues in the West Bank, Nepal, Indonesia, Lebanon, Human Trafficking in Europe, Sahel Migration in Morocco/ Italy and Gender-based Violence in India, the project will focus its attention over the coming years in the Middle East, with the continuous partnership and support of the Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The 2019 course will review issues surrounding the public policy challenges associated to the return of Syrian refugee population in the region and the humanitarian assistance and protection challenges associated with the international response. In discussing options for operationalizing international humanitarian responses, the course will consider the synergies between public health, emergency humanitarian assistance, refugee and displacement issues, urban conflict, human rights, and other relevant domains of interest. The case will be considered in terms of its epidemiological profile, and will examine local and regional response mechanisms, and the role of civil society, international cooperation, and governance.

Existing long-standing engagement and partnerships within the humanitarian sector and in the Middle East Region will play a key role in the development of this course. Over the years, the course team has developed close relationships with agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and UN agencies such as UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, OCHA, and UNRWA. Cooperation and institutional partnerships with these agencies and stakeholders help to orient, guide, and support the Field Study’s research aims, and will serve as an avenue to test the students’ research and foster critical dialogue.

Therefore, during the Field Study, students have the opportunity to meet with high-level practitioners representing a diversity of perspectives, ranging from local non-governmental organizations to government representatives, private corporations, advocacy groups, United Nations officials, and international humanitarian and health professionals. High-level discussions are complemented by lectures and practical workshops to maximize the experiences of the field study. Students will survey the various perspectives and strategies of relevant actors on relief to development sectors, as well as the underlying assumptions and biases each of these approaches reveals.

This course will not only seek to learn from, but also to evaluate, critique, and expand existing methods. In addition, students will have the opportunity to develop their own professional thinking in this field, to network with practitioners, and to test and hone their newly acquired skills in this dynamic and complex social and political context. The course will culminate in the development of an assessment report by the students, to be presented, shared, and critiqued by a working group of key agencies working in this context. It is the aim of the Field Study that the rich experience and information gathered by the students become a useful tool for practitioners to evaluate their policies in this context.