New free online course puts operational research at the heart of humanitarian action



Geneva, 18 October 2022 – A collaboration between the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, the Aga Khan University, and the International Committee of the Red Cross has led to the development of a new, open-access, online course entitled Operational Research for Humanitarians. This unique partnership brings together a vast combination of knowledge, skills and tools. The course, launching on 18 October 2022, offers academic expertise illustrated by operational and humanitarian examples.

This MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), available via Coursera, provides a practical and theoretical introduction to conducting research in humanitarian settings. It is designed for humanitarian professionals and researchers to gain the fundamental skills of understanding, engaging with and overseeing research in humanitarian settings. 

The Director of the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, Professor Karl Blanchet, outlines why research is crucial to humanitarian action. “We need to understand that humanitarians are working in very challenging environments, and they have to make critical decisions. These decisions are going to affect individuals’ lives. To make sure we make the right decisions at the right time, we need evidence. This MOOC brings research and practice closer together and contributes to making humanitarian action more evidence-based.”

The ICRC further emphasised why this course is needed now more than ever. “In the last two decades, an evidence revolution happened in the humanitarian sector, as we understood that evidence has to be at the basis of what we do”. Dr Francesca Grandi, Senior Operational Researcher, ICRC.

Professor and Chair of Community Health Sciences Department at the Aga Khan University, Dr Sameen Siddiqi explains, “evidence is critical for informed decisions in times of humanitarian crises. Operational Research for Humanitarians is an online course that will help health workers find realistic solutions to seemingly perplexing problems in challenging situations.”

Through this very novel partnership between an international humanitarian organisation, a university in Asia that has campuses across three continents and a university in Europe, we hope that humanitarians working for national or international organisations will be able to develop and update their research knowledge and skills.

To register for the course, please visit

Watch our trailer video here.