Humanitarian Response

Intensive Course

April 14 - 26, 2015

Harvard University

Boston, Massachusetts


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.


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. The course curriculum is similar to the graduate course offerings GHP 515 & 518 (International Humanitarian Response I and II.) Further details on the courses can be found here.

Topics covered in the 2014 course:

  • Rapid Assessment
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Budgeting and Finance
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Food Aid and Nutrition

Registration Information

Course Fees

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 requsted registraion materials. The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is a self-funded program and all participants are required to pay a registration fee. At this time participation scholarships are not available. Please note that accommodations and travel are not included in the course fee.

Important Information

Due to the visa application process, it is recommended that you register for the workshop and fully pay by February 14, 2015. Invitation letters for the purposes of securing a visa will be sent by the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard under only the following conditions:

A credit card or a wire transfer are the only payment methods accepted from international guests. International checks will not be accepted. International attendees who select “check” as the payment method will not be registered.

Proof of hotel reservations or alternative lodging within metropolitan Boston is required. Alternatively, present a letter of support from your organization verifying your intent to attend the specified program.

Special Instructions for International Participants

The Humanitarian Academy at Harvard encourages workshop participation by international guests.  If you will be traveling from another country to attend the workshop and will need a visa to enter the United States, then please read carefully the following information.

Please note that participants must specifically request a Letter of Support for a Visa application by emailing


Need a Visa?

If course fees have been paid and you require a Visa to attend the class, please notify the course organizers as soon as possible in order to request a letter. If you have paid and subsequently your Visa request is denied, you may transfer your registration to another course at no charge or request a cancellation refund. Cancellations for denied Visas are handled on a case by case basis and you may need to provide proof of Visa denial. 

Cancellation Policy

1. Registration may be transferred to a colleague at any time free of charge.
2. Registration may be deferred to following years course, free of charge, up until 30 days prior to the first day of the course. Deferment request received within 30 days of start of class a $150 USD fee will apply.
3. Cancellation requests received up until 30 days prior to first day of the course will be eligible for a refund minus $150 USD cancellation fee.
4. Cancellation requests received within 30 days of the start of the course will not be eligible for a refund. 

E-mail Us

All cancellation and deferment requests should be submitted to: