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.


student group on human rights trip
Students at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva. 

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. 

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 Hepburn

Director, J. Kirk Felsman Program on Children in Adversity, Felsman Fellowships Adjunct Faculty, Geneva Program on Global Governance & Policy, Humanitarian Action

Amy Hepburn 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 projects include extensive work with international and local NGOs, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees in Geneva, Refugee Children’s Unit, the United States Department of State, Displaced Children and Orphans Fund, and the United States Agency for International Development, Office of HIV/AIDS.

Her research and programming interests include increasing the access and quality of education for girls in resource poor settings and the 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.

Ms. Hepburn co-directed the Duke University-HEI Graduate Program on Global Governance and Policy in Geneva, Switzerland from 2001-2005. She currently teaches the Human Rights and Humanitarian Action course as part of the Duke Program.

Hepburn is a Senior Research Fellow in the Duke University, Health Inequalities Program, where she consults on programming and research for children living outside family care. She is Adjunct Faculty, Lecturer in International Affairs, at The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs where she teaches a course on the care and protection of children in complex humanitarian emergencies.

She is a Visiting Lecturer at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy where she is also the Executive Director of the J. Kirk Felsman Program on Children in Adversity.  Ms. Hepburn currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area.  She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees with honors from Duke University.


Mona Zahir

I am incredibly grateful to have participated in the Geneva program. This was a transformative experience! I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in human rights, humanitarian law, or international relations. Being a fellow has been the peak of my Sanford journey! - Mona Zahir, Humanitarian Crises, Refugees and Human Rights Track

Mona's Geneva Experience