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IIHA Releases New Humanitarian Research Guide

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs has released a newly curated research guide for humanitarian workers as well as undergraduate and graduate students researching the complex issues surrounding humanitarian action.

The guide provides valuable resources for research on General Humanitarian Issues as well as specific topics, such as Law and Protection, Humanitarian Workers, Beneficiaries, Operational Assistance Sectors, Disaster Management, External Relations, Programming, and more.

Five years ago, Anthony Land, PhD, IIHA Senior Fellow and Professor, began to compile research and documentation from UN Resolutions, international conventions as well as reports, manuals, handbooks and guidelines published by humanitarian agencies. He would distribute the material to students in the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance courses. The resources are now available to the wider humanitarian community through the Fordham University library portal.

“The research guide provides a ‘one stop shop’ for relevant literature on humanitarian affairs. It acts as a living resource and will constantly evolve as new material becomes available. The resource is designed to be useful for students writing academic papers or researching for their thesis.  Field practitioners can use the research guide to get the broadest possible access to current practice and methods,” said Dr. Land.

All students and humanitarians are welcome to explore our resources, find links to additional research materials, and connect to a librarian.

The IIHA hopes to expand the guide through collecting additional research which academics, students and practitioners find useful in their work. Suggestions can be sent to the librarian, Shira Atkinson (satkinson3@fordham.edu) or to the Institute (iihagradasst@fordham.edu).

To learn more about our humanitarian education opportunities at undergraduate and graduate levels, please visit the IIHA website.

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New Partnerships for Innovation

In its pursuit of innovation for humanitarian action, the IIHA has launched partnerships with the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance at the University of Northampton as well as with the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University. Both thought leaders in technology and innovation, these partners will allow for collaboration and further impact of the IIHA’s training and research on blockchain, data and innovation management, and technology for humanitarian action.

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The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the Centre for Innovation Pilot Data and Innovation Management Course for Humanitarian Workers

Day 1 of our Innovation and Data Management course, students participated in a hands-on data visualization workshop led by Jeremy Boy of UN Global Pulse. Photograph by John Kuyat.

                                                                                                                                                         July 19, 2017, New York – Whether cashless transfers for food aid, digitized refugee identification or mobile messaging applications – new technologies have immense potential to propel humanitarian response and aid delivery in a more effective and utilitarian direction. These same innovations and the data they produce also present real-world implications on people’s lives, especially those who have survived humanitarian crises.

How can humanitarians maximize technology, design thinking, and big data for the benefit of the greater good? How can we counter potential negative impacts of technology on the protection and security of crises-affected populations? What are the next steps in solidifying universal norms for humanitarian data management?

These questions were posed by Ms. Atefeh Riazi, the UN’s Chief Information Technology Officer to a diverse group of participants enrolled in a pilot course launched last week by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University and the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University.

The Data and Innovation Management in Humanitarian Action course sought to bring real-world challenges of data and innovation management under academic critique and to prototype solutions adaptable to the humanitarian ecosystem.

The course featured guest lecturers from 11 academic and intergovernmental organizations at the forefront of designing innovative solutions in the humanitarian context, including:

  • Atefeh Riazi, United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Chief Information Technology Officer
  • Gina Lucarelli, Team Leader of Knowledge and Innovation for United Nations Development Operations, Coordination Office
  • Mike Fabrikant, Software Developer for United Nation’s Children Fund Global Innovation Center
  • Jeremy Boy, PhD, Data Visualization Specialist for United Nations Global Pulse
  • Daniel Scarnecchia, Researcher of Standards and Ethics for the Signal Program of Human Security and Technology at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
  • Nathaniel Raymond, Director of the Signal Program of Human Security and Technology at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
  • Uzma Alam, PhD, Global Health Consultant
  • Lee-Sean Huang, Co-founder and Creative Director of Foosa
  • Jorn Poldermans, Innovation Manager for the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University
  • Benjamin Kumpf, Manager of United Nations Development Program Innovation Facility
  • Giulio Coppi, Humanitarian Innovation Fellow at the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
  • Godfrey Takavarasha, Data Manager for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Humanitarian Data Exchange

Lecturers presented perspectives on the role of technology in protecting human rights, design thinking for humanitarian problems, and ethics of data management as well as taught basic techniques for data visualization, innovation fund management and humanitarian data for coordination.

Ranging from country bureau staff of United Nations agencies to students conducting research on humanitarian issues, course participants hailed from China, Malaysia, Canada, Pakistan, and beyond. They came to the class with backgrounds as first responders, refugee registration officers, directors of aid agencies, legal experts among others. 

Through collaboration and group work, the course also provided a unique opportunity for participants to learn best practices from one another.

Throughout the course, the immense benefits of embracing technology for humanitarian response confronted the ethical dilemmas and logistical barriers of doing so during conflicts, natural disasters and other crises.

Students also studied and discussed existing frameworks and guidelines on ethical and effective data management and innovation, such as The Signal Code: A Human Rights Approach to  Information During Crisis by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Handbook on Data Protection in Humanitarian Action by the International Committee of the Red Cross; and A Guide to Data Innovation for Development by UN Global Pulse.

In addition, a two-day hands-on prototyping and simulation workshop, led by the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University allowed the humanitarians to tackle the theoretical and legal challenges they face in their current roles through data preparedness and interpretation.

This initiative will continue through future joint training opportunities offered by the IIHA and Centre for Innovation. The next course will be the HumanityX Summer School – Big Data for Peace and Justice, which will be hosted at Leiden University in The Hague from August 28 to September 1, 2017 and is still open for registration.  

For more information, contact:

Angela Wells
Communications Officer
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
awells14@fordham.edu

Jorn Poldermans
Innovation Manager
Centre for Innovation
j.b.poldermans@fgga.leidenuniv.nl

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