Humanitarian Action Minor

Program Overview

In response to the increasing number, scope and intensity of humanitarian emergencies, the field of humanitarian action has grown dramatically over the last 25 years, along with diverse career opportunities. In collaboration with Fairfield University’s five schools, this minor complements students’ other fields of study with the concepts, theories and skills to discern individual and collective responsibilities to respond to humanitarian needs at home and around the world. This unique interdisciplinary minor prepares students to: 

  • Learn, reflect and respond to humanitarian needs 
  • Advance moral commitments and ethically grounded action
  • Serve as men and women for others
  • Alleviate human suffering and protect human dignity 

The program includes faculty with expertise in an array of disciplines including ethics, engineering, health, history, economics, management, and international affairs.

Students minoring in humanitarian action have opportunities to prepare for humanitarian action through Fairfield’s JUHAN chapter (Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network), as well as through internships in the field of humanitarian action. The JUHAN club raises awareness on campus about humanitarian issues and builds strategies for responding to humanitarian crises. JUHAN also includes international skills-building conferences for undergraduate students of Jesuit universities.




For an 18-credit minor in Humanitarian Action, students complete:

  • One introductory foundation course (3 credits) – choose 1 of the following:
    • PO 129: Politics of Humanitarian Action
    • HI 270: History of Global Humanitarian Action
    • AE 272: Ethics of Humanitarian Action
  • Two elective courses in context and analysis (6 credits total)
  • Two elective courses in skills and methods (6 credits total)
  • One capstone course (3 credits) 


Students have the option of choosing from one of three foundational courses in ethics, history and politics that introduce humanitarian action. Each course covers the core material through different disciplinary approaches.

In addition to one foundational course, students must complete four elective courses. These electives are divided equally among context and analysis and skills and methods. Context and analysis courses focus on international organization, global public health, gender, war, peace, genocide, human rights, global security, historical perspectives on contemporary crises, border politics, migration, refugees and climate change.

To satisfy the two remaining electives in skills and methods, students may choose from a range of courses in such fields as anthropology, communication, management, law, information systems and grant writing. Elective offerings also include courses in international operations of non-profits, engineering, and field research courses in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Students may substitute one skills and methods elective requirement with the successful completion of a humanitarian action internship.

Students may double-count one context and analysis elective and one skills and methods elective from another major/minor. With the director’s approval they may substitute an alternative course for the skills and methods requirement.

The culminating experience for the Humanitarian Action minor is the Capstone Seminar. 

View Program Chart (PDF)

View Humanitarian Action Learning Objectives (PDF)

Suggested Course of Study

Freshman or Sophomore Year--Choose one of the following

  • PO 129: Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • HI 270: History of Global Humanitarian Action
  • AE 272: Ethics of Humanitarian Action

Sophomore Year

  • One course in context and analysis and one course in skills or methods

Junior Year

  • One course in context and analysis and one course in skills or methods
  • HA Capstone – if all other requirements are fulfilled

Senior Year

  • Complete any remaining electives
  • HA Capstone

Course Offerings

See course descriptions from the University Catalog for more information.&nbsp

Foundational Courses

  • AE 272: Ethics of Humanitarian Action
  • HI 270: History of Global Humanitarian Action
  • PO 129: Politics of Humanitarian Action


Context and Analysis Courses

  • AE 276: Ethical Dimensions of Global Business Practices
  • EC 140: Health Economics
  • EN 113: Literature of the Holocaust
  • EN 283: Films and Novels in the Asian Diaspora: Challenges in Citizenship
  • HI 274: Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Global Crises
  • IL 51/PO 130: International Relations: Theories and Challenges
  • IL 152: International Human Rights
  • NS 340: Global Public Health
  • PO 127/IL 197: United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • PO 132: Global Climate Change: Politics and Policy
  • PO 135: Introduction to International Law
  • PO 136: Gender, War and Peace
  • PO 137: Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • PO 138: Border Politics
  • SO 185: Introduction to International Migration
  • RS 235: Liberation Theology


Skills and Methods Courses

  • AY 180: Grant Writing in the Social Sciences
  • AY 200: Anthropological Research Methods
  • CO 324: Crisis Communication
  • EN/W 339: Grant and Proposal Writing
  • IL 150: International Operations of Non-Profits
  • IL 280: Global Leadership for Research and Project Development
  • IS 350: International Information Systems
  • LAC 300: Justice and the Developing World
  • MG 350: International Law
  • MG 370: Managing Nonprofit Organizations
  • EG 360: Engineering Project Management
  • HA 298: Humanitarian Action Internship



  • HA 300: Humanitarian Action Capstone


The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Humanitarian Action Program.

Life After Fairfield

In response to the increasing number, scope and intensity of humanitarian emergencies, the field of Humanitarian Action has grown dramatically over the last 25 years, along with the paths for professional development and diverse career options.

Recent Fairfield alumni whose studies focused on humanitarian action have pursued careers in the field and graduate studies at leading institutions. For example:

cas_mll_cannonEmma Cannon ’14, Peace Corps Volunteer
A JUHAN fellow at Fairfield, Emma double majored in international studies and Spanish with a focus on Latin America. Emma is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, where she works in support of the Healthy Schools Project, a national initiative that aims to improve basic health and hygiene in primary school students in rural Guatemala. She received the JUHAN Humanitarian Citizenship Award in 2014.


jonesDaniel Jones ’13, Fulbright Scholar
The latest in a long line of Fairfield graduates to be awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, Daniel Jones ’13 is spending the year researching family and community engagement in rural El Salvador. He graduated with a politics major and anthropology minor.



osl_jwhittakerJulianne Whittaker ’12, Fulbright Scholar
Julianne received Fairfield University’s William J. Kramer ’60 Humanitarian Award in 2012. Since graduating she has worked in humanitarian affairs in Jordan after completing an English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright to that country in 2013. Her latest assignment was with International Relief Development (IRD) where she worked from August 2013 – July 2015 at the Zaatari Refugee Camp for Syrians in Jordan. Julianne is currently enrolled in the MPA program at Princeton University.




Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network

The Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) was launched in 2008 through a joint collaboration between Georgetown, Fordham and Fairfield Universities as a way to raise awareness of the Jesuit ideology of “men and women for others” on Jesuit campuses, while working together to address the humanitarian need of those who are suffering. Learn more about this national network and how you can get involved.


The Humanitarian Action internship program is designed to foster students’ professional development by working with relevant international organizations, non-profit, media and business organizations, as well as national, state and local government entities dealing with issues of importance to humanitarian crises and disaster response.

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