Course descriptionHumanitarian professionals operating within complex emergencies are continuously confronted with decisions that warrant a nuanced understanding of contemporary politics, disasters, agendas of humanitarian and non-humanitarian actors and their power dynamics. Effective humanitarian intervention involves the ability to accurately anticipate the level of need, to be able to assess and react to volatile operational environments (especially in a conflict) and the ability to design and implement interventions that are feasible in any given political context. At a systemic level, humanitarian professionals need to be able to follow global trends (such as on conflict, climate change, development) as well as engage in policy debates on humanitarian space, reform of global governance, responsibility to protect, human rights and development. This module introduces students to the salient characteristics of contemporary world politics and situates humanitarian action within its political context.
Main themesTheoretical Perspectives in IR
Evolution of Humanitarian Action
The Humanitarian System
Poverty and Development
Responsibility to Protect
Conflict and its Analysis
Conflict in the Middle EastSocial Determinants of Vulnerability
Learning outcomesUpon successful completion of this course students should be able to
- Have a clear understanding of the international humanitarian system in its geopolitical context with an emphasis on the power relations between actors
- Be familiar with the main approaches and concepts of international relations and geopolitics
- Have a demonstrated capacity to identify the root causes of conflicts and complex emergencies in a particular case
- Have the ability to apply certain key concepts of International Relations and Geopolitics to concrete disaster situations.
- Have the ability to transfer acquired knowledge to other humanitarian situations
- Have adequate capacity for (self-) reflection on academic argumentation
- Have the basic skills for acting in and reacting in intercultural contexts
Teaching and learning methodologyThe module is lecture based and involves group work, case studies, student presentations and short classroom based activities. Short class debates will be organized on some contested topics.
Assessment methods and criteriaThe Geopolitics module will be assessed through a major group assignment (50%) and an end of module exam (50%).
Required readingCore reading:
- Baylis, Smith, Owen ed. (2011), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Barnett, Weiss (2011), Humanitarianism Contested: Where Angels Fear to Tread, Global Institution Series, Routledge, Manchester
Last updated: 5 May 2017