The relationship between aid agencies and international/local media is often ambivalent yet vital for public and operational outcomes. This course aims at exploring the theoretical and practical issues and implications of this challenging relationship. The course programme analyses the two sides of the interaction: the first part examines public communications by aid agencies in a changing media environment and includes media training for operational purposes. The second part explores the principles of humanitarian journalism and crisis reporting, questioning the media’s agenda, the newsworthiness of humanitarian contexts and the impact of media coverage.

More information can be found in this printable Course-at-a-glance document.


Objectives of the course:

At the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • characterize the specificities of humanitarian communications;
  • understand the international, regional and local media landscapes, including digital media;
  • engage in media training;
  • assess the concept of “media power” and the logic of media attention and coverage;
  • evaluate the challenges of media relations and the opportunities for humanitarian reporting;
  • examine humanitarian representations and the visual politics of aid;
  • analyse the ethical and deontological outcomes of media relations and messaging.



Around 20-25 hours of work each week, including:

  • Asynchronous self-study activities (such as case studies, videos, recorded slideshows, readings, etc.)
  • Synchronous live sessions (mandatory, usually in the early afternoon, CET)

Structure of the course

  • What are humanitarian communications?
  • Traditional media and the digital revolution (media landscapes)
  • Effective media training
  • Media attention and forgotten crises
  • Humanitarian journalism and crisis reporting
  • Visual politics of aid and humanitarian iconography
  • Ethics of humanitarian communication and deontology of humanitarian reporting

  • Professionals in the humanitarian, development or social sector looking to develop their competencies in media and public relations
  • Professionals from other sectors (journalism, marketing, PR, policymaking, philanthropy) who wish to increase their understanding of humanitarian communications.
  • Graduate students with relevant volunteer or intern experience, looking to undertake a postgraduate course to explore the specificities of media and humanitarian collaborations.

Admission requirements:

  1. a university qualification (bachelor’s degree or equivalent);
  2. at least three years of relevant professional experience;
  3. excellent command of English;
  4. motivation working in the humanitarian sector.


Documents required:

  • CV (Résumé)
  • Copy of your highest diploma
  • Work certificate or official document of your current job position
  • Proof of English language competence (TOEIC/TOEFL/IELTS or equivalent); see details here
  • Scanned copy of passport.


More information about the admission process is available on our application page.

” (The course) has been tough but exceptionally exciting and useful. A complete take on the relation between media and aid organisations. Well composed and well presented. As an external with many years far from academic studies, I really enjoyed collaborating with a group of master’s students. I feel motivated to dig deeper into humanitarian reporting with a new set of tools”.

Micael Lindholm, journalist, opinion strategist and former public affairs expert at the Swedish Red Cross (2022 course student)


“A relationship at stake: media and aid organisations” has helped me sharpen and strengthen my communications and media skills through different topics and learning activities. This training course gave me the essential tools and resources to deal with media and find new perspectives in Humanitarian Communications”.

Majd Aljunaid, MSF Yemen Field Communication Officer (2022 course student)

“As a humanitarian worker, taking the Executive Short Course covering the relationship between media and aid organisations has given me the tools and practical steps to better engage with the media and assess the ethical dimension of humanitarian communication.”

Anmar Oyon Al Sood, Senior Programme Assistant, UNHCR (2022 course student)

“This is one of the best online courses I’ve taken at the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies – or on any other online platform. I appreciate the care taken to give real examples in each lesson, and I also like the exercises that kept me engaged. There’s nothing worse than listening to an instructor who’s not even prepared and is “just sitting there” in front of a camera. I enjoyed the course and learned a lot; the explanation was evident even for beginners,  visually attractive and descriptive”.
Reem Nazem Malhis (2022 course student)


  • A relationship at stake: media and aid organisationsDates 24 April - 5 May 2023
  • A relationship at stake: media and aid organisationsDuration Two weeks
  • A relationship at stake: media and aid organisationsLocation Online
  • A relationship at stake: media and aid organisationsLanguage English
  • A relationship at stake: media and aid organisationsCREDITS 2 ECTS
  • Fee CHF 1'700
  • Application Deadline 2 April 2023