The Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies has developed a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), “Operational Research for Humanitarians”, in partnership with the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Humanitarians work in challenging environments, and they have to make critical decisions. These decisions are going to affect individuals’ lives. To make sure they make the right decisions at the right time, they need evidence.

By offering a practical and theoretical introduction to conducting research in humanitarian settings, this free MOOC brings research and practice closer together to improve the lives of people affected by emergencies.

Course Objectives

At the end of the MOOC, participants will be able to:

  • appreciate the value of operational research in humanitarian settings;
  • understand the fundamental research processes and designs, including key ethical considerations;
  • become an informed consumer of research studies, able to use evidence to support humanitarian policies and programming;
  • commission and supervise research studies.


The MOOC is divided into five modules:

  • Module 1 – Value of research
  • Module 2 – Research methods
  • Module 3 – Research in humanitarian settings
  • Module 4 – Ethics and community engagement
  • Module 5 – Knowledge translation

Who is this course for?

This course has been designed for humanitarian professionals and junior researchers to help them commission or support research in challenging environments affected by humanitarian crises.

Register Today!

The MOOC is freely accessible via online registration on Coursera and is designed as a five-week learning journey with alternating videos, quizzes, exercises and assignments.

Interested in learning more? Watch our MOOC trailer video here.

We asked humanitarian and academic experts to explain why operational research is essential to humanitarian action: