Humanitarian Response Intensive Course

2015 course dates: April 14 - 26

Classroom Week 1: April 14 - 18 Classroom Week 2: April 20 - 23 Field Simulation: April 24 - 26


The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is offered each year to professionals from around the world at Harvard University. Through presentations and hands on table top exercises offered by faculty and guest lecturers who are experts in their topic areas, participants will gain familiarity with the primary frameworks in the humanitarian field (human rights, livelihoods, Sphere standards, international humanitarian law) and will focus on practical issues that arise in the field, such as personal and team security, rapid assessments, application of minimum standards for food security, shelter, WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and operational approaches to relations with the military in humanitarian settings. Throughout the class, students will participate in pre-assigned learning teams to complete in-class projects designed to compliment a humanitarian case study. At the conclusion of class, student teams will present an aid delivery proposal designed to meet the needs of the population portrayed in the humanitarian case study.

Participants will utilize knowledge of the humanitarian field gained in the classroom learning sessions during a three-day field simulation exercise. Attendees will spend two nights in the forest and participate in a complicated disaster and conflict scenario. During the simulation, participants will work in teams representing different humanitarian nongovernmental organizations and will engage with a wide range of local and non-state actors (roles developed and filled by faculty, course alumni, and affiliates) to create a service delivery plan.

The simulation will be held rain or shine. The course curriculum is similar to the graduate course offerings GHP 515 & 518 (International Humanitarian Response I and II.) Further details on the courses can be found here.

Click here to see the detailed 2014 course agenda


Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH - Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Stephanie Kayden, MD, MPH - Director, Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative

See the HRIC Faculty & Guest Lecturers page for a complete list of faculty and guest lecturers


Registration for the Humanitarian Response Intensive Course for professionals is open to the general public and seats will be reserved on a first come, first served basis. This class is intended for those currently working in or aspiring to work in humanitarian response and development capacities. Students from graduate programs from outside the Harvard network as well as medical residents and fellows are welcome to participate. Classes will be held in English. To successfully participate in the course, we recommend that participants have at least a B2 English language level (CEFR).

Previous participants have attended from a wide-range of orgnaizations including: Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, UN OCHA, McGill University, US Army 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, Clinton Health Initiative, ICRC, WHO, and Plan Canada.

The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is not a credit yielding university affiliated course. For those who will need a Visa to enter the US please plan accordingly and consult with your local embassy for Visa application instructions. A letter of support for the Visa application can be requested following registration and payment for the Humanitarian Response Intensive Course.


Due to high demand for the 2015 Humanitarian Response Intensive Course, registration is full at this time. If you are interested in being placed on the waitlist, please email

2015 Course Fees

NGO and Professional Workers - $2200 USD (EARLY registration until December 30, 2014: $2050)

Students and Medical Residents  - $2000 USD (EARLY registration until December 30, 2014: $1850)

Participants from a Developing Country - $1530 USD (See verification instructions in registration area.)

Course fees will cover the classroom training (breakfast, lunch and course materials) as well as participation in the disaster simulation exercise (meals, tent and shared equipment rentals included). Proof of employment and/or citizenship may be required for certain registration discounts. Formal confirmation of enrollment will be sent upon receipt of course fees and review of requsted registraion materials. The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is a self-funded program and all participants are required to pay a registration fee. At this time participation scholarships are not available. Please note that accommodations and travel are not included in the course fee.

Special Instructions for International Participants
The Humanitarian Academy at Harvard encourages workshop participation by international guests.  If you will be traveling from another country to attend the workshop and will need a visa to enter the United States, then please read carefully the following information.
Due to the visa application process, it is recommended that you register for the workshop and fully pay by February 14, 2015. Invitation letters for the purposes of securing a visa will be sent by the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard under only the following conditions:
  • Registration is completed and paid in full.  A credit card or a wire transfer are the only payment methods accepted from international guests.  International checks will not be accepted.  International attendees who select “check” as the payment method will not be registered.
  • Proof of hotel reservations or alternative lodging within metropolitan Boston OR a letter of support from your organization verifying your intent to attend the specified program.

Please note that participants must specifically request a Letter of Support for a Visa application by emailing

Cancellation Policy
1. Registration may be transferred to a colleague at any time free of charge.
2. Registration may be deferred to following year's course, free of charge, up until 30 days prior to the first day of the course. Deferment request received within 30 days of start of class a $150 USD fee will apply.
3. Cancellation and refund requests received up until 90 days prior to first day of the course will be eligible for a refund minus $150 USD cancellation fee.
4. Cancellation and refund requests received between 90 days prior to first day of the course and the first day of the course will be eligible for a refund minus $300 USD cancellation fee.
5. Cancellation and refund requests received on or after the first day of the course will not be eligible for a refund.

If course fees have been paid and you require a Visa to attend the class, please notify the course organizers as soon as possible in order to request a letter. If you have paid and subsequently your Visa request is denied, you may transfer your registration to another course at no charge or request a cancellation refund. Cancellations for denied Visas are handled on a case by case basis and you may need to provide proof of Visa denial. 
All cancellation and deferment requests should be submitted to:


Contact Us About the Course

For specific questions regarding this class please send us an email.