Urban Humanitarian Emergencies Course

 COVID-19 Update
The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative is closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation. We will announce more information regarding this workshop in the coming months. Please sign up for the Course Interest List to be notified when new online and in-person courses are announced.

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Humanitarian organizations, international agencies and governments serving populations affected by crises increasingly find themselves working in urban settings. Agencies face new challenges and some potential advantages in these complex urban environments and are only just learning how to approach them. These new challenges take many forms: complicated physical layouts, unprepared institutions and infrastructure, and mixed target populations of refugees and underserved locals. Furthermore, the difficulty in NGO coordination with uniquely urban communities as well as local authorities calls for urgent education and training in urban crises.

The Urban Humanitarian Emergencies Course is a four-day course organized by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative via its Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative to train humanitarian professionals on current issues and best practices involved in this ever-expanding and unique area of research and practice. The course faculty is experienced in humanitarian training with on-the-ground experience with humanitarian crises in urban areas.

Walking Activity: The first day of the workshop includes a walking activity in the city of Boston, in which participants will walk to and examine various urban features and vulnerabilities of the city. Participants will be expected to walk several miles over the course of the day. Please let us know if this presents an issue.

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).

Select Topics covered in the course:
  • Response to Recovery
  • Coordination and Communication
  • Assessment and Prioritization
  • Finance, Economy and Markets
  • Housing and Shelter
  • Violence and Protection
  • Health
  • Integrated Sectors
  • Exit Strategy


Stephanie Kayden, MD, MPH - Director, Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative, Humanitarian Academy at Harvard

David Sanderson, BA (Hons), DipArch, MSc, PhD - Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair of Architecture, UNSW Australia

Ronak Patel, MD, MPH - Director, Urbanization and Resilience Program, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Intended Audience

NGO and UN workers, national and local government disaster preparedness planners, and others involved in emergency-phase response to disasters and humanitarian crises. 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).

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.

Contact Us

All questions, cancellations, and deferment requests should be submitted to: hhiurbancourse@gmail.com