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Humanitarian Action: Humanitarian Crises, Refugees, and Human Rights


The Humanitarian Crises, Refugees, and Human Rights Fellows track offers a unique opportunity to learn firsthand how humanitarian assistance is formulated and implemented.  The program focuses on pressing humanitarian issues, including crises, international migration, refugees and resettlement, and the rights of vulnerable children.  Fellows selected for this program gain both academic and experiential perspectives on how intergovernmental institutions, public-private partnerships and nongovernmental organizations shape humanitarian action policy.

The program is open to graduate students attending schools of public administration, education and leadership, public policy, human rights and more. We also accept a limited number of exceptional undergraduate students.

    About the Course

    Students posing in GenevaThe course, PubPol 860.04, will run May 25 – May 29, 2020.

    The course provides participants with a thorough introduction to international humanitarian assistance, human rights, and human security. It explores how the international community can better respond to humanitarian crises such as the influx of refugees in Europe, HIV-AIDS in Africa, or ongoing civil conflict in countries such as Sudan. It examines the importance of both cooperation and collaboration on a global scale by organizations such as the International Red Cross, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), and development organizations. See a sample course syllabus from 2019.

    During the course week, the program also facilitates additional evening events, such as a program reception, mentorship dinners, and networking events.

    About the Instructor

    Amy E. Hepburn (Duke MPP'01)Amy E. Hepburn (Duke MPP'01) is a policy professional who has researched, published, and programmed extensively on issues affecting children in complex humanitarian emergencies, including armed conflict and HIV/AIDS in the Balkans, Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Republic of Georgia. Her clients include international NGOs, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees in Geneva, the United States Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development.

    Her research and programming interests include the education and holistic care of children in complex humanitarian emergencies-- particularly those orphaned by HIV/AIDS in eastern and southern Africa and/or affected by armed conflict. Hepburn co-directed the Duke University Graduate Program on Global Policy in Geneva, Switzerland from 2001-2005. 

    Hepburn is a Senior Research Fellow in the Duke University, Health Inequalities Program and is an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs where she teaches on the care of children in complex humanitarian emergencies. Hepburn is also the Executive Director of WomenOne, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating women and girls faced with extreme poverty and cultural barriers. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees with honors from Duke University. She currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband and four children.