GEOG3516 - Humanitarianism: Theory and Practice


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2018/2019

Course content

Embedded in humanitarian action are a number of contentious issues regarding the relationships between political aims of donors and host governments and the people concerned. The course will stress the relationship between theory and practice and how to deal with operational dilemmas on the ground. The lectures will introduce principles and theories of humanitarian action; the various actors involved; the relationship between them and their motivations; the emergence of humanitarian regimes; the relationship between political development and humanitarian practice; humanitarianism and forced migration; gender, ethnicity and humanitarian challenges; ethical dilemmas, aid conditionality and the "Do No Harm" and "Relief to Development" concepts. Assignments are approved/not approved. Central topics for the course are: 1) The humanitarian system, its principles, actors, motivations and practices. 2) The outcomes of humanitarian crises for individuals and different groups of people. 3) The global governance of assistance in humanitarian emergencies. 4) How to develop an understanding of local contexts and local capacities in managing a humanitarian crisis. 5) The processes from relief to recovery during and after a humanitarian crisis. 6) The dilemmas between theory and practice.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The students will through the course acquire broad knowledge on central topics, theories, issues, processes, tools and methods within humanitarianism.
Skills: As a result of the course the students will be able to critically assess and apply relevant knowledge to practical and theoretical issues faced in humanitarian work.
General competence: The course has a focus on written papers and exam which will make the students able to discuss and communicate relevant subject materials as theories, practical issues and possible solutions to those issues.

Learning methods and activities

Internet based, 1-day compulsory introductory seminar, altogether equivalent to 16 hours lectures. There will be additional seminars for the students present at NTNU. It is expected that compulsories and examinations must be completed in English. Exceptions must be clarified with the lecturer responsible for the course.
Teaching will only be given if a sufficient number of students register for the course and if the Department has sufficient teaching resources. See for the most recent information on the courses not offered. Information will be made available no later than 10 January in the spring semester and 10 August in the autumn semester.

Compulsory assignments

  • compulsory attendance on the introduction day
  • 2 assignments

Specific conditions

Exam registration requires that class registration is approved in the same semester. Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Required previous knowledge



Detailed timetable


  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date.
If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.