Humanitarian Action

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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 272: 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 272: 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

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

International Humanitarian System: Context and Analysis Courses

  • AE 276: Ethical Dimensions of Global Business Practices
  • AE 293: Ethics of War and Peace
  • AY 135: Refugees and Culture in the Modern World
  • EC 140: Health Economics
  • EN 113: Literature of the Holocaust
  • EN 283: Novels & Film of the Asian Diaspora: The Challenge of Citizenship
  • HI 274: Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Global Crises
  • IL 51/PO 104: International Relations: Theories and Challenges
  • IL 152/PO 281: International Human Rights
  • PB 240: Global Public Health
  • PO 271/IL 197: United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • PO 252: African Politics
  • PO 275: Climate Change: Politics and Policy
  • PO 278: Global Governance: International Law and Organizations
  • PO 279: Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • PO 280: Border Politics
  • PO 303: Gender, War and Peace
  • SO 185: International Migration and Refugees

Skills and Methods Courses for Humanitarian Action

  • AY 180: International Research Practicum
  • AY 200: Anthropological Research Methods
  • CO 324: Crisis Communication
  • EG 360: Engineering Project Management
  • EN/W 339: Grant and Proposal Writing
  • HA 298: Humanitarian Action Internship
    * This is an independent study, please contact Julie Mughal
  • 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 Business Law
  • MG 370: Managing Nonprofit Organizations
  • PO 273: Humanitarian Action and Disaster Response Field Training
  • RS 235: Liberation Theology


  • 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:



Emma 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 was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala for two years, where she worked 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. She currently works at University Research Co., LLC (URC) & Center for Human Services (CHS) Support Zika Response acitivies in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and Jamaica.


Klevisa Kovaci, ’14, Youth Assembly, United Nations
Klevisa is an international development consultant and currently working for Youth Assembly at the United Nations, a program of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation. She has engaged in international organizations and work in France, Indonesia, India and China. She worked in UN Women in Kosovo and the Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN. Her specializations include democratization, gender and sustainable development. Klevisa has dual Master's degrees from Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris in International Affairs and Development. She graduated from Fairfield University, majoring in International Studies, Politics and French.



Julianne Whittaker ’12, Fulbright Scholar
Julianne worked in the Humanitarian field in Jordan after completeing an English Teaching Assistantship Fullbright in that country in 2013 and is the founder and co-director of the Amal Foundation which provides university scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan. She completed her Master's in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University in 2017. After graduating, she was a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) International Development Fellow in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and currently works for CRS as Livelihoods Program Manager in Iraq.

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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