Please refer to the return to campus page for more information on these delivery modes and students who can enrol in each mode based on their location in first half year 2021.
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This subject explores emergency relief in crisis situations, including both ‘natural’ disasters and armed conflict (or combinations thereof). We will discuss the dynamics of different kinds of disasters, such as droughts, earthquakes, floods, cyclones, armed conflict and displacement, as well as ‘complex emergencies’ where ‘natural’ disasters intermesh with man-made dynamics. Central to ‘natural’ and man-made disasters is the question of vulnerability and resilience: contrary to what international media images tend to suggest, the first response to disaster is always local, and the resilience of the people affected is determining for longer-term outcomes. But international responses can of course play a major role. The subject will therefore explore: international humanitarian principles, policies, and guidelines; the everyday life of humanitarian work; and the challenges and dilemmas of humanitarian aid: how it gets entangled with local political economies; how it gets embroiled in dynamics of conflict; and how it can in fact become part of the problem. We will also examine differences and interlinkages between humanitarian and development interventions, as well as the supposed humanitarian-development ‘continuum’ – the idea that humanitarianism is something that occurs in times of crisis, and that this then gives way to development once the situation is back to ‘normal’. As we will see, disasters are not at all exceptional. They are a normal part of human life; and with the impact of development and climate change, human exposure to disasters is only increasing. Instead of thinking of disasters as unique and exceptional events, shouldn't we be thinking about ‘living with risk’? And, if so, how can that be done?
Intended learning outcomes
This subject provides a specialized contribution to the first mentioned learning objective of the Development Studies Degree, namely to understand current practice and thinking about development.
More specifically, the learning objectives of this subject are as follows. On successful completion of this subject, students should:
- be able to understand the policy trends and debates in the humanitarian sector;
- have a concrete sense of what crises situations may look like in practice;
- understand causes of contemporary emergencies and the need to understand these against more a structural background of resilience and vulnerability;
- be able to engage with contemporary critiques of humanitarian practice and underlying questions of evidence; and
- be able to take well-argued position in these debates in verbal discussions and an authoritatively written essay.
On completion of this subject students should have:
- the ability to analyze crises situations, their causes and dynamics and think through possible interventions;
- the ability to shift perspective between academic and policy perspectives and to treat the knowledge, language and workings of both realms at their own merit, and identify tensions and connections between them; and
- the ability to construct coherent and convincing arguments about development interventions.
Last updated: 11 February 2021