Learning within an evolving humanitarian sector

Learning within an evolving humanitarian sector
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CERAH’s Communications Manager Sian Bowen shares an extract of the briefing session she delivered on 3 February, 2020 during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) a forum for humanitarian networks and partnerships to meet and address key humanitarian issues.

The humanitarian landscape is constantly changing. In the last few years, as humanitarians we’ve been dealing with a mix of protracted crises, record numbers of displaced people, more disasters triggered by climate change, and a plethora of conflicts in pretty much every region of the world, to name just some of the crises.

Due to this rapidly evolving landscape, there is a need to ensure humanitarian workers receive relevant and continuous training. Training needs, however, are changing too. People have less time to study and need more flexible study options. They also need to be sure that what they learn is based on reality and evidence, and can be immediately implemented within their own specific work environment.

At CERAH, we are very aware of these trends, and work closely with our humanitarian partners, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins sans Frontières, to ensure our courses are flexible, reality and evidence-based and relevant to the needs of humanitarian professionals at the various stages of their careers. Additionally, because we are a joint centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies our courses are internationally accredited.

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o reflect this, we have just launched our new course programme – with an strong emphasis on short, intensive, high quality courses that match emerging and ongoing humanitarian trends, including Climate ChangeHealth System Assessment in Humanitarian CrisesNegotiation, and Project and Staff Management

These one-week courses aim to build practical skills in humanitarian programme management in both ongoing and acute situations. In addition, the courses prioritise the need for people management training – a skill often overlooked but frequently needed within humanitarian organisations – turning humanitarian workers into managers, and managers into leaders who inspire confidence and trust.

We are also conscious that many professionals find it hard to juggle their work with continuous training, so our distance/blended learning options, combining online materials with face-to-face sessions, bears that in mind. For example, our course in Designing Strategies and Projects for Humanitarian Action, can be taken over an eight-month period, and only requires around eight hours of work per week, to fit with job constraints. To complement the online part of the course,  students also attend a two-week residential course in Uganda, where they put their learning into practice within local NGO projects.

As we move forward and adapt to our changing environment, we also intend to de-centralise our courses and running more training programmes within regional hubs. At the same time, we will continue to grow our centre in Geneva, maximizing our collaboration with our partners. Our flexible one to three-year Executive Master in Humanitarian Action has been revamped to be as timely and pertinent as possible. And, thanks to our scholarships for participants from low- and middle-income countries, we will continue to have a very diverse mix of students, to ensure their classroom experience reflects the diversity of their working environments – and creates a great opportunity to hone negotiation and listening skills – both key to successful project and people management.

We are keen to hear from our partners and supporters on how we could collaborate further to ensure continuous training within the evolving humanitarian sector remains cutting edge. Please get in touch: cerahcommunication@unige.ch.