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Disaster Preparedness and Humanitarian Assistance

In order to achieve the key UN Sustainable Development goals of "No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Wellbeing, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Disaster Risk Reduction," sovereign governments, the international community, and non-governmental organizations need to be able to respond to rapid onset disasters with appropriate and swift humanitarian action while at the same time considering the long-term challenges of developing sound disaster risk reduction mechanisms and emergency mitigation systems. The first portion of this course will investigate both the natural and made-made causes of disasters requiring humanitarian assistance as well as the mechanisms put in place to rapidly respond to disasters.  This portion of the course will further focus on the challenges of responding to humanitarian crises including logistical challenges, meeting the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), infusing protection/reducing gender-based violence (GBV) in responses, as well as the challenges inherent to delivering humanitarian aid within complex environments and bureaucratic systems. The second portion of this course will focus on how humanitarian actors, at all levels, are moving towards a more resilience focused model of ensuring that disaster preparedness is not limited to direct aid. As such, this course will analyze the sustainability of long-term disaster risk reduction and early warning systems to reduce the impact of potential disasters.  Finally, this course will touch on the use of updated technologies in humanitarian disaster response, how humanitarian assistance has reshaped the construct of national sovereignty, and the ethical challenges associated with humanitarian aid and development.


  • Drivers of Humanitarian Aid and Assistance
  • Protection Elements, Women’s Equality, and Gender Bias Violence
  • Differences between humanitarian aid and humanitarian development 
  • The Humanitarian Development Nexus 
  • Technology in Humanitarian Aid
  • Implementing Humanitarian Aid and Development Projects 

This course is eligible towards the completion of the Certificate in Global Affairs or the Certificate in International Development (please note, this course can only be used towards one Certificate). Bundle your coursework and earn a professional credential that communicates knowledge and skills gained. Declared Certificate students receive 10% off of courses within the program.

More details

You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the cause and impact of disasters, including impact on key Sustainable Development Goals.
  • An understanding of the early warning and other mechanisms established to rapidly respond to disasters and provide humanitarian assistance.

Ideal for

  • Students interested in disaster preparedness.
  • People who would like to learn more about the challenges of responding to humanitarian crises.

1 section

  • Fall 2024

    • Section

    • Semester

      Fall 2024
    • Date

      Oct 5 - Nov 9
    • Day

    • Time

      • Online
    • Format

      • Online
    • Sessions

    • Faculty

    • Location

      Instructor Led