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One Humanity, Shared Responsibility (IL9HE4)


The module aims at not only simply mapping the practical context of humanitarian assistance, but also considers the interlocking of social, economic and political factors to examine the shared responsibility of humanity towards humanitarian challenges.


This is a five-day intensive module; including lectures, seminars, and workshops.

The topics covered are:

  • Humanitarian challenges
  • Women in society
  • Global responsibility
  • Essentials in humanitarian practice
  • Disaster Risk Reduction in Emergencies and Personal Security

  • 1500 word essay
  • Student devised assessment:

Assessment method designed in collaboration with the tutor whereby the student should be able to choose between a 15-minute video followed by a 15-minute chaired seminar discussion or an article.

Students will be free to select their preferred topic/question and subsequently they will undertake their own research utilising the methodologies and the holistic approach presented throughout the course. Their piece of work will be presented in front of their peers and the tutor. The theory and the ideas explored in the work will be discussed and feedback offered. Students will be marked on the quality of their work (form and theory) as well as on the basis of their contribution to the discussion of other students’ pieces.

Illustrative syllabus

The module will consist of 5 days sessions. The module leader will attend all of each session, to integrate and stimulate the interdisciplinary learning.

Humanitarian challenges

This lecture will present and assess the current rise in Humanitarian Challenges around the globe. The social and environmental reasons will be discussed. Case studies will be used to examine the trends in social, political, economic and environmental context. How hazards will turn into disasters will be comparatively interrogated and current trends in building resilience against crisis will be analysed. Case studies may include:

  • Sustainable management of plastic waste in Kibera, Kenya
  • The National Rural Water supply and sanitation programme in Tanzania
  • Rural development and planning in LDCs: The “GAMBA DEVE – LICOMA AXIS”, District of Caia, Mozambique

Women in society

In this lecture social segregation, discrimination and particularly the status of women in developed and underdeveloped modern societies will be examined. The question regarding women includes far more than that of admitting women into the learned professions, and of the question of women's education. The issue concerning women embraces an economic, a social and a psychological side, and many other aspects as well. Guest lecturer from Women Engineer’s Society will shed light on the profession’s lack of women with recent examples.

Global responsibility

In this day we will explore the multi-dimensional consideration in engineering decision making, in particular, consideration will be given to the social, environmental and economic impacts of engineering and technology development in the short and long term alongside the cultural sensitivity, sustainability, inclusivity, equality and other ethical issues. A workshop will investigate the cases from the social development projects of Engineers Without Borders and large impact projects (i.e. large sports events infrastructure projects) will be debated.

Essentials in humanitarian practice

The aim of this session is to provide students an insight into life working in the field of Humanitarian Assistance. The lectures will increase students’ understanding of the characteristics of emergencies induced by natural disasters and conflict and the requirements for an effective humanitarian response. A simulation (role play) of an emergency response in an engaging simulation will put the practical learning at the heart of the session. This will challenge existing motivations, provide a first-hand understanding of what it is like to work in the field. By the end of the day students will have the chance to explore their own motivations for engaging in humanitarian work. Seminars from first-hand experiences from individuals who have been involved in humanitarian relief will be embedded in this session.

Disaster Risk Reduction in Emergencies and Personal Security

Within the context of climate change and population growth, the number of natural and human-made emergencies every year has increased drastically in the past decade. The effects of floods, earthquakes, droughts, and other natural hazards may not always be prevented but their impact on communities can be limited through disaster risk reduction (DRR) practices. Similarly, approaches and measures are necessary to improve personal security when living and working in insecure environments of post disaster or post conflict Humanitarian relief operations. In this part of the module, the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematically analysing and managing the causal factors of disasters. The lectures will examine reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property, wisely managing land and the environment, or improving preparedness for adverse events as well as real-life simulation exercises; confronting key issues such as roadblocks, abduction and crossfire.

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An open sewer running through the middle of the Kibera slum, Nairobi. With up to one million residents, Kibera is Africa

An open sewer running through the middle of the Kibera slum, Nairobi. With up to one million residents, Kibera is Africa's largest slum.

Photo: Eoghan Rice / Trócaire (CC BY 2.0)