Tag Archives: Brendan Cahill

Robert De Niro to 2017 IDHA Graduates: “You Are My Heroes”

In his commencement address to the 50th graduating class of Fordham’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro urged the humanitarian aid workers to let their “inner humanitarian” guide them into making the world a better place.

The ceremony, held on June 30 at the Lincoln Center campus, honored 25 IDHA graduates and two recipients of the Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action program. The students hailed from 17 countries around the world, including Italy, Tajikistan, New Zealand, Egypt, Poland, and Pakistan.

Before addressing the graduates, the Oscar-winning actor, whose film credits include Taxi Driver, The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull, and who appeared most recently as Bernard Madoff in HBO’s The Wizard of Lies, commended his longtime friend Kevin Cahill, M.D., IIHA’s founder, as a “man of great culture and enormous warmth.”

“Like many of you, he had an instinct for finding himself in places where the need was greatest,” De Niro said.

The actor told the graduates that they too were “true humanitarians” because they “served with compassion and dignity” while making sacrifices and taking “heroic risks.”

“Now you’ve gone through this program so that you can perform your work more effectively,” he said. “You have distinguished yourself here, and you will take those lessons with you for the rest of your life.”

De Niro, who received an honorary diploma, said that while many people might solely deem humanitarian workers as “wonderful people doing heroic work,” he considered them “shining examples of what can be achieved when you find the humanitarian hidden inside.”

“By inspiring others, you increase your impact exponentially,” he said before reading the names of the entire graduating class. “You are my heroes,” he told them.

Bart Vermeiren, who delivered the IDHA participant address, said completing the program is a huge milestone.

“We all embark on a new or old journey in our lives, but one day or another, sooner or later, we will use our IDHA wisdom and put it into practice with our learning experiences to the benefit of ourselves, and, most importantly, to the benefit of the people in need,” he said.

It’s a message that resonated with Naomi Gikonyo, a humanitarian practitioner with nearly a decade of experience in emergency response interventions in countries including Haiti, Libya, South Sudan, and Kenya.

“This program has pushed me to apply a lot of what I’ve learned into the field,” said Gikonyo, who works as an emergency preparedness and response officer for the United Nations World Food Programme. “It’s instrumental because we’re dealing with humanitarian crises with high complexities.”

Dr. Cahill told the graduates not to be afraid of the challenges ahead. “You have the ability to go over barriers, to not be blocked in by academic barriers or those barriers that separate us from each other,” he said.

After 20 years of courses and 3,000 participants representing 140 nationalities, Larry Hollingworth, director of humanitarian programs at Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, which runs the IDHA program, said IDHA continues to create impact.

“We are in that unique position that we’re not in uniform, but we find ourselves on the front line,” he told the graduates, whom he said are leading emergency medicine in makeshift hospitals, opening schools in remote camps, and “staying on when others have left.”

“Stand up for you values, and your beliefs. Do what you want to do. Be bold and be brave.”

This article was originally published by Fordham News.

 

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IIHA stands in solidarity with refugees

As humanitarian disasters rise in scale and severity around the world, an unprecedented number of people have become forcibly displaced from their homes. As humanitarians, we recognize that our shared responsibility to the plight of  refugees and immigrants does not end in camps or at the onset of disaster, but rather extends into our own communities and with our own neighbors. Today, more than ever, we are presented with this call to bear witness.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation have a long standing tradition of training men and women around the world to effectively participate in answering this challenge.  Our educational approach has been, for twenty years, remarkably consistent: by learning from and knowing one another, we become better humanitarian professionals. Consequently, we are able to provide aid to those affected by crises with intelligence, flexibility, and dignity.  That celebration of other cultures and viewpoints has been a hallmark of every course we offer – whether to humanitarian professionals or undergraduate students.

Grounded in values of social justice and inclusivity, we are in full solidarity with our students and alumni from all around the world as well as the millions of refugees and migrants whom they serve – regardless of religion, nationality or immigration status.

In one week we will begin our 49th IDHA course, this time  in Kathmandu, followed by courses in Barcelona, Vienna, Cali, New York, and Amman. We will continue to cooperate with other academic and non-academic partners, and especially our family of alumni, to offer assistance to those who most need it. We look forward, as an independent Center and as an academic Institute, to preserving the rights of all, and the championing of a better world.

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President, CIHC; University Professor, IIHA
Brendan Cahill, Executive Director, IIHA
Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E., Humanitarian Programs Director, CIHC

Photo credit: Andrew Leger, IIHA Communications Intern

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Looking forward to 2017

Dear IIHA Community,

As we wrap up the first month of 2017, allow me to extend my warmest wishes to you for the year ahead. 2017 promises to be a year of great growth for the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and I wanted to reach out to you, to review where we are going, and how we intend to deepen our engagement with our community.

After 16 years of continued growth and nomadic movement through four different offices at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York City, the IIHA will move to the Rose Hill campus. By being closer to Fordham’s academic community, we hope we will be able to provide new opportunities for our students. We will be located in Canisius Hall where additional space will allow us to bring in more dedicated research fellows and host exhibitions, lectures, and other extra-curricular events. This is the first of many changes that 2017 will bring.

After five years, we are saying goodbye to Dr. Alexander van Tulleken who is moving on from the Senior Fellow position to concentrate on his medical, media and humanitarian work throughout the world. This is no small change. Under his academic guidance, the undergraduate program flourished, and his insight and multidisciplinary and praxis-based approach informed our transformative approach to education. I know the decision to leave his undergraduate teaching and advising role with the Institute was not an easy one, but we are confident he will continue to be an active contributor to the Institute.

We are actively seeking his replacement and are fortunate to have welcomed two new members to the team. Ms. Angela Wells will serve as our the new IIHA Communications Officer. Ms. Wells, who had been working with Jesuit Refugee Service in East Africa, will direct our social media, websites, and communications initiatives. She looks forward to working with and being a resource for all of you. Giulio Coppi has become the first Humanitarian Innovation Fellow at the Institute. Mr. Coppi is the founder of High Tech Humanitarians, a project for humanitarian innovators supported by the Institute.

He is one of four core team of contingent faculty and research fellows teaching our undergraduate courses this semester, including:

  • Pat Foley, an applied anthropologist with 20 years of experience in emergencies, recovery and development;
  • Giulio Coppi, an expert on the use of Open Source technology and community-based approaches to humanitarian response;
  • Laura Perez, an internationally recognized expert on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict; and
  • Rene Desiderio, a technical expert in emergency and humanitarian response operations as well as topics ranging from population and development to international migration and gender.

We are additionally endeavoring to launch a new Master’s in Humanitarian Studies program, based on our New York campus. Paperwork for this initiative has been submitted to the New York State Department of Education and we are awaiting their approval. This program will allow us to extend our training to recent undergraduates and young professionals seeking to make their next step in their humanitarian careers.

Our Master’s in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) program and short courses for humanitarian workers will also continue to thrive with courses around the world. This year we will host three diploma (IDHA) courses in Nepal, New York and Vienna, as well as specialized short courses in Barcelona, Amman and Vienna. We are particularly excited for the summer IDHA in New York, as this will be the 50th diploma course to date. We are proud to have reached this milestone and will commemorate it with memorable activities.

As the year progresses forward, we hope to be an intellectual catalyst of discussion, collaboration and action toward a more socially just world. Our door and ears are open and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve this community.

Warmest regards,

Brendan Cahill
Executive Director
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
Program Chair, Humanitarian Studies

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Humanitarian Newsletter: October 26, 2016

Read the latest IIHA Humanitarian Newsletteriiha-with-website featuring a letter from Executive Director Brendan Cahill about the upcoming departure of Program Officer Kasia Laskowski from the IIHA team, news about Fordham University and the IIHA‘s new partnership with the International Organization for Migration, and articles by CIHC Board Member Lord David Owen and IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow Alexander van Tulleken, M.D.! This edition also includes updates and reunions from our wonderful IIHA alumni around the world, a list of our upcoming training courses, jobs and internship opportunities in the humanitarian sector, and our monthly Innovation Corner by High Tech Humanitarians!

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Program Officer Kasia Laskowski to Leave IIHA in Early November

2016-07-01-11-27-08-1This month’s issue of The Humanitarian Newsletter marks the last one under the steady and loving hand of Kasia Laskowski (IDHA 40), who is leaving the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs in early November.
Kasia began her career with the IIHA as part of the international team, working, under the direction of Larry Hollingworth, on our humanitarian training programs held throughout the world. Needing new challenges, although not so secretly mourning her life on the road, she returned to New York to oversee social media and alumni relations for the IIHA and the CIHC. fullsizerenderShe was, when I met her, six years ago, as is she is now – careful, compassionate, humble, flexible, imaginative, and almost ruthlessly efficient – a perfectionist at her work, an old soul providing wise counsel, spiritual direction, and, to many of the IDHA diaspora, even a couch to sleep on in her New York City apartment. Hundreds of students, lecturers and interns will remember her exacting standards, her energy and her sensitivity to all.
We constantly speak about family in the IDHA and in our graduate and undergraduate courses and there is no better example of this than Kasia. img_7057Our Institute grew with her as an integral part of the team and it will grow further because of the hard work she put in to making it central to Fordham’s mission, sharing its news, and the news of so many other academic programs throughout the world. Possessing an almost perfect laugh, the kind of laugh that changes the atmosphere in a room, she will be missed by so many, not least by me. I always knew this day would come, but it makes it no less easy as it approaches.
On behalf of everyone at the IIHA, I wish Kasia fair skies and following seas and look forward to working with her in the next stage of her career.
Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9)
Executive Director, IIHA

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Fordham and the IIHA formalize partnership with IOM

IIHA and IOM

Roger Milici, Stephen Freedman, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Ashraf El Nour, Brendan Cahill, and Olivia Headon (Photo by Dana Maxson)

Ambassador Swing and Joseph M. McShane, S.J. Fordham University and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) are proud to announce our partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which was formalized by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and IOM Director General Ambassador William Lacy Swing at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York.

dmp_8882The agreement between the two organizations was led and negotiated by IIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9), who emphasized the importance of the partnership for training, research, and publications. We extend our sincere thanks to CIHC Board Member and IDHA Alumni Council Chairperson Emeritus, Argentina Szabados (IDHA 2), who, in her roles as IOM Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia and Special Representative to IOM Director General, has been an absolutely integral part of the process.

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IIHA Hosts Second Cohort of NOHA Students at Fordham University

The IIHA hosted the second cohort of the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) Erasmus Mundus students at Fordham University during the summer session from mid-June till mid-August. NOHA2016_UNIIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9), welcomed the seven students from four European universities: Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany (Meryem Alci, Tatjana Bojarski and Malte Neuser), University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain (Daniela Brum da Silva Nieves and Guillermo Barros), University College Dublin in Ireland (Sara Bojö) and University of Groningen in the Netherlands (Hawa Kombian). IIHA Research Fellow, Rene Desiderio, Ph.D., served as Academic Advisor of the students.

During their stay at Fordham, the students conducted research for their master’s theses focusing on various humanitarian issues. Refugees(NOHA) - 2016 NOHA Students taken at the UN HeadquartersThese include humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups, the use of new technologies by migrants and refugees, aid efficiency in complex conflict situations with particular focus on humanitarian aid in Syria, the scourge of sexual violence in conflict areas, accountability in the humanitarian innovation community, approaches to scale-up digital health interventions for women and children and good practices of remote management in humanitarian action.

UN_HQ_NOHA2016Students who attended some of the summer sessions offered by IIHA, including lectures presented during the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) in June, found them particularly useful in their thesis research, and helped the students to deepen their understanding of humanitarian issues and challenges. Topics that the students found to be especially beneficial included technology in humanitarian assistance, communications and media, civil-military cooperation, migration, and accountability. One student said that the sessions “were exceptionally well taught,” while another “acquired new perspectives and insights” on issues of great interest to the student.

NOHA(2016)_UNAs a venue for third-country research stay, the students said that they will encourage and recommend Fordham-IIHA to other NOHA students. The Institute, according to the students, provides excellent academic supervision, offers interesting courses given by practitioners, and provides opportunities to meet seasoned professionals and lecturers in the humanitarian field.

 

Student Feedback

“Fordham-IIHA provides an ideal environment to focus on one’s thesis research, as well as an opportunity to attend interesting lectures on humanitarian issues.  Moreover, the city is great destination to spend two intense and memorable summer months.”

-NOHA Student, University of Deutso (Bilbao, Spain)

“I would highly recommend future NOHA students to do their research stay at Fordham-IIHA because of the excellent academic supervision and interesting humanitarian courses it offers.”

-NOHA Student, Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany)

“At Fordham-IIHA, we felt that we were not alone because the Institute was there for us during our research stay. The academic standard is high. I made the right choice because I got the support that I needed for a meaningful thesis.” 

-NOHA Student, University of Deutso (Bilbao, Spain)

“The most rewarding aspect of my stay at Fordham IIHA was being able to pursue my thesis research plus an internship with High Tech Humanitarians (HTH) that created opportunities for me to attend some UN sessions with technology experts engaged in humanitarian and development issues, as well as to meet with an OCHA representative as part of my data collection efforts.”

-NOHA Student, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

“The hands-on supervision at Fordham IIHA was essential to refine ideas and cut a clearer path towards my master’s thesis goals. The opportunity to attend summer courses and meet seasoned professionals and lecturers in the humanitarian field have enriched my overall experience during my research stay.”

-NOHA Student, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

“Fordham IIHA provides the NOHA students an opportunity to focus solely on their master’s theses, receiving valuable support from an academic advisor, who helps to get their research on the right track.”

-NOHA Student, Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany)

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Fordham Hosts 2016 ACUNS Annual Meeting

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Brendan Cahill welcomes audience members to Fordham University

Last month, Fordham University had the honor of hosting the 2016 Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Annual Meeting – an event that coincided with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs’ (IIHA) 48th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA). The ACUNS Annual Meeting, “Meeting the Challenges of Development and Dignity,” explored a myriad of topics across the spectrum of humanitarian affairs and international development, including justice, security, human rights, dignity, gender equality, education, international cooperation, conflict prevention and reconciliation. Throughout the conference, these themes were contextualized within the current global landscape, particularly given the early challenges faced in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recent World Humanitarian Summit that brought together United Nations Member States, Heads of State and Governments, and representatives from civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to chart the future course of humanitarian action.

The Annual Meeting was opened by ACUNS Chair Lorraine Elliott, IIHA Executive Director Brendan Cahill, and Fordham University Provost Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., who offered welcome remarks and an introduction to familiarize attendees with not only the work of ACUNS, but also the well suited location of Fordham University in New York – a University bolstered by its Jesuit mission and ultimate commitment to social justice.

Photo by Dana Maxson

Jan Eliasson (Photo by Dana Maxson)

UN Deputy Secretary General and former Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) Board Member Jan Eliasson delivered the Keynote Address, “The United Nations in Today’s and Tomorrow’s Global Landscape.” In his address, Eliasson described his role as Deputy Secretary General: “to reduce the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be [which] won’t happen overnight.” Citing particular factors that can help the international community deal with today’s current challenges, Eliasson highlighted the evolving trend and essential need for women’s full empowerment and the advantageous power of youth. Eliasson emphasized that “rather than thinking what can we do for youth, we should also be asking the question, what can we do with youth.” In addition to the enormous potential of women’s empowerment and youth engagement, Eliasson addressed the importance of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as they provide the groundwork for horizontal development, especially in the crucial areas of knowledge, science, technology, health and sustainable energy. According to Eliasson, the word “together” may be the most important word in the world today. Nations must work together in order to achieve universal goals, such as conflict prevention and reconciliation. After all, “we are all developing countries,” Eliasson reminded the audience. He noted that it may not be easy in the short run, “but in the long run, closing up the world is much more dangerous than opening up the world.”

The following day, H.E. Ibrahim Gambari gave the John W. Holmes Lecture, “Security and Justice at a Crossroads: The Future of Global Governance.” Gambari began the lecture by describing the concept of “just security,” the fusion of global security and justice which “aims to forge a mutually supportive global system of accountable, fair, and effective governance and durable peace.” He stressed the importance of both security and justice “if humanity is not only to survive but to thrive with dignity.” With terrorism at an all-time high, battle deaths at a 25-year high, the number of refugees and displaced persons at a level not seen in 60 years, and the continuing presence of grave human rights violations and discrimination against women, children, and minorities, Gambari emphasized that “the world [has] approached a critical crossroads: both global security and justice face severe, in some areas unprecedented threats and challenges.” While acute crises and conflicts can often detract from long-term political culpability, Gambari believes the main foundational problem of security and justice today is rooted in the uncertain, weak, and corrupt governance at national, regional and global levels, which have time and again been “a gateway to insecurity and injustice.” In order to achieve global systemic change, UN Member States, global civil society and international civil servants must all work together, according to Gambari. Citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful maxim, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Gambari underlined the need for international cooperation in creating a just and secure world. Gambari is currently the co-chair for the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, a joint project of The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center. He previously held positions as the Permanent Representative of Nigeria, and as Foreign Minister of Nigeria, respectively.

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Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán discusses education in emergencies and the SDGs

Throughout the meeting, IIHA and CIHC staff were frequent contributors. The plenary on “Education as the Engine of Development and Dignity” featured, among other panelists, Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán (IDHA 16), CIHC Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director. Sánchez-Téran spoke knowledgeably about the SDGs, drawing attention to the essential need for education in emergencies – what is and can be a life-saving intervention. Noting that the SDGs do not adequately target refugee or displaced children, Sánchez-Téran emphasized that until this gap is addressed, education for all will remain a goal rather than a realization. Throughout his presentation, Sánchez-Téran continued to stress that “we must place forcibly displaced children at the heart of the international development and humanitarian agenda.” According to Sánchez-Terán, “with children representing half of refugees worldwide, the refugee crisis is therefore, a children’s crisis.”

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IIHA alumna Jana Lozanoska presents her paper

The workshop panels were also home to familiar faces, such as Jana Lozanoska (IDHA 16), Ph.D. Candidate at the United Nations Mandated University for Peace, who presented her paper, “Human Dignity as Core of Human Rights through Hanna Arendt Oeuvre” at the workshop panel, “Human Dignity, Human Security and Social Reconciliation.” During her introduction, Jana credited the IIHA and her participation in the IDHA program with igniting her interest and passion in human security and human dignity.

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Brendan Cahill, Francis M. Deng, and Larry Hollingworth

The Annual Meeting continued on into the weekend, with Saturday marked by a book talk and signing of H.E. Francis M. Deng’s Bound by Conflict: Dilemmas of the Two Sudans, which was sponsored by Fordham University, Fordham University Press, and the IIHA. Deng is the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Sudan to the United Nations and the former Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. In discussing his book, Deng shared with the audience that “managing diversity constructively means promoting inclusivity, dignity and human rights for all.” Throughout his honest and thoughtfully constructed remarks about the two nations of Sudan and South Sudan, Deng emphasized that “until we find a solution to internal differences in each country, we will not find a solution to differences between two.”

The closing plenary discussed takeaways from the World Humanitarian Summit, and included the contributions of IIHA Humanitarian Innovation Fellow, Giulio Coppi, who participated as a panelist alongside Lesley Bourns of the Policy Analysis and Innovation Section, Policy Development and Studies Branch at UNOCHA and H.E. Oh Joon, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN and President of ECOSOC. The panel was moderated by Stephen Browne, Co-Director of Future UN Development System (FUNDS) Project at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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Melissa Labonte closes the 2016 ACUNS Annual Meeting

The 2016 ACUNS Annual Meeting came to a close with the eloquent remarks of Melissa Labonte, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, who reflected upon the key themes of dignity, solidarity, justice, and agency. Though the conference was in itself a great success, she encouraged further action from the audience: “I hope that each of you will continue the dialogue and forefront from this conference.” ACUNS Chair Lorraine Elliott also offered closing remarks, stating, “This has provided a valuable conversation on development and dignity with participants from over 30 countries.” She concluded by asking the audience, “Should we be hopeful in thinking forward? I very much think so.”

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IDHA Returns to NYC!

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IDHA 48 is off to a strong start in New York City! Last week, the IIHA welcomed 41 students hailing from 27 nations, representing 36 different organizations in 26 countries around the world. Tony Land, Ph.D. (IIHA Senior Fellow), Gonzalo SánchezTerán (IDHA 16, CIHC Deputy Humanitarian Programs Director), Mark Little (IDHA 27, IDHA Alumni Council), Angie Jackson (IDHA 27), and Al Panico (IDHA 30) return to their roles as IDHA tutors, and welcome Naomi Gikonyo (IDHA 29) to the IDHA NY tutor team. The course was opened by Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E. (IIHA Humanitarian Programs Director), Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. (CIHC President), and Brendan Cahill (IIHA Executive Director, IDHA 9) who provided welcomes and introductions to the IIHA and CIHC and offered words of wisdom, guidance, and encouragement to the IDHA 48 class.

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The first week began with leadership and team-building exercises facilitated by the dynamic Pamela Lupton-Bowers and included some team bonding and discussion outside of the classroom on a sight-seeing cruise around lower Manhattan. The week also featured lectures by the IDHA 48 tutors to set the scene of the humanitarian landscape; presentations on various aspects of law pertaining to humanitarian crises, human rights, and immigration delivered by Elisabeth Wickeri (Executive Director for the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School) and James Stillwaggon, Esq., (Counsel for Alvarez, Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira LLP); and lectures given by Peter Hansen (CIHC Board Member) and Darryl McLeod (Chair of the Economics Department at Fordham University).

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Now in the second week of the course, IDHA 48 students have delved into more technical aspects of the humanitarian field, thanks to various lectures and case studies given by the IDHA 48 tutors and visiting guest speakers. Over the next few days, students will attend some of the sessions of the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) being held at Fordham University. View a snapshot of the IDHA 48 class, read the full IDHA 48 update on our blog and check out some moments from the course on Instagram!

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IIHA Executive Director Looks Ahead toHumanitarian Issues in 2016

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Brendan Cahill

Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9, IIHA Executive Director) recently provided insight on the Escalating Humanitarian Crises for Fordham’s 2016: Which Way are We Headed?

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