About the content
Welcome to the Global Health and Humanitarianism MOOC. We are delighted to have you with us, and hope that the next six weeks will provide an interesting and thoughtful experience for you. We hope the course will give you an overview of global health and humanitarianism in theory and in practice. These fields overlap, and are connected, in many significant ways. However, we have used three key themes to explore our subjects: each key theme will be discussed over two week blocks by specialist course lecturers, and supported by unique video perspectives by three keynote speakers who are leading specialists in the field. - Weeks 1 & 2: An Introduction to Global Health Dr Amy Hughes MBE; - Weeks 3 & 4: Humanitarian Responses and Dilemmas Dr Tim Jacoby; - Weeks 5 & 6: The Right to Humanitarian Assistance and the Responsibility to Protect Dr Kirsten Howarth. To get the best out of the course we encourage you to try and set aside a few hours each week. This will give you time to work through videos, written materials and linked resources, and to get involved with discussion with other learners. We have provided a variety of different readings, resources and suggested activity based on the course content. Some will be essential to your understanding of the MOOC themes, and to assessment (if you have chosen to take part in assessment activity). Others will be for those of you who want to discover more about a particular subject or perspective, or to make your own study of global health or humanitarianism in action. Check through the weekly resources and content to find out which best suit your needs. During the course we will look at a range of different opinions and debates, linked to key themes and addressing ethics and moral issues. We hope you will be inspired and encouraged to explore and share your own perspectives, and those of others, throughout the course. Different viewpoints are essential to understanding global health and humanitarian practice. We hope you enjoy the next six weeks finding out about Global Health and Humanitarianism, and look forward to hearing from you on the discussion boards.
This introductory session will address global differences in access to healthcare, using maternal health as a key example. It will suggest factors that are significant in understanding those differences including logistics, culture, public spending and education, and the consequences on inequity in access to healthcare for individuals and communities.
Week Two: Global Health definitions, case studies and evolution
The session looks at the evolution of the terminology and practice of 'global health'. It gives an overview of two key agencies (World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) and their development, reflecting the broader development of global health concepts and praxis. Finally we examine case studies relating to the causes, communication and management of disease spread.
Week Three: Humanitarian Responses
Humanitarian crises exert great cost. The Japanese tsunami in 2011 is estimated to have cost $300billion. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 probably killed in excess of 400,000 people (mostly in Indonesia). Civil wars have, since 1945, killed over 20 million people and displaced a further 67 million, 90% of whom have been non-combatants. Responding to such a litany of misery has increasingly taken the form of humanitarianism, which has seen large increases in expenditure since the 1980s. In this part of the course, we will look at the vulnerabilities that underpin war and disaster in the developing world (as the home of the great majority of these events). We will consider the phases, challenges and politics of humanitarian responses and ask why is that resource-poor environments are so prone to such occurrences.
Week Four: Humanitarian Dilemmas
Humanitarianism is, at its very heart, political. It immediately opens up profound ethical questions. This has become increasingly apparent as aid agencies have moved away from the single-mandate approach of the Cold War and towards combined programmes of relief, development and peace-building. This part of the course will trace some of the difficulties that this has generated. In particular, it will consider the shift from duty-based ethics to a focus on the consequences of humanitarian intervention. We will look at two organisations' responses to two seminal crises in the 1990s - MSF France's decision to withdraw from the refugee camps on the Rwanda border in 1994, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' refusal to testify to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1999.
Week Five: The Right to Humanitarian Assistance
As the world becomes more interconnected as a result of globalisation, increased migration and technology, disasters (both natural and man-made) are no longer of local but global concern. The right to assistance for those affected by such conflict (internal and international) and natural disasters are at the forefront of humanitarian action. Multiple humanitarian agencies and government bodies are heavily involved in the provision of assistance to those in need. Yet the right to humanitarian assistance is very much an area of humanitarianism that is open to debate: does a right to humanitarian assistance actually exist? In many cases the rights of the individual in need of assistance are often compromised by broader concerns of national sovereignty and international politics.
Week Six: Responsibility to Protect
Moving on from the previous section where we examined the right to humanitarian assistance and the obstacles and challenges surrounding its practice, this session will explore another controversial issue within humanitarianism: the responsibility to protect (hereafter referred to as R2P). The principle R2P recognizes not only the need for states to protect their own citizens from genocide and other mass atrocities, it also sets the precedent that if such states are unable to do so, then the international community will step in and provide the much needed protection and humanitarian assistance to those affected. Since its adoption by UN members in 2005, the practice of R2P has suffered from inconsistent application around the world, raising concerns over national sovereignty and the motivations of those behind R2P operations. This session will explore the concept in more depth, charting its rise from 2001 as well as shedding light on some of the main challenges it faces.
Prof Tim Jacoby
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute & The Global Development Institute
Dr Amy Hughes
Clinical Academic Lecturer in Emergency Response
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute
Dr Kirsten Howarth
Lecturer in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute
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