International relations

Humanitarianism in Theory and Practice

Module code: 018IRSID
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework, Essay

This module is historically grounded, critically minded and practically oriented. It offers you the opportunity to:

  • understand and critically assess the politics and history of humanitarianism as a concept and practice
  • put into practice their critical awareness when addressing case studies of humanitarian emergencies and issues
  • engage with humanitarians working in the field in a variety of ways.

The module decentres the ‘classic’ story of humanitarianism as a wholly altruistic impetus. Rather, humanitarianism is situated within the history of industrialisation, colonialism and militarism as well as the politics of gender, class and race. We will explore how humanitarian organisations operate domestically as well as internationally, and question what this means for our understanding of humanitarianism.

Module learning outcomes

  • Develop a systematic and critical understanding of humanitarianism as an ideology and a practice that shapes and structures global politics.
  • Develop a detailed conceptual understanding of the historical, theoretical, political and practical challenges associated with humanitarianism.
  • Apply theoretically grounded knowledge to practical tasks and empirical cases.