Thematic Short Course: Communication in Humanitarian Settings

Thematic Seminar: Communication
© Serge Méchineau


This week will offer the basic knowledge necessary for the students without any background in communication who would like to follow the CAS ”Communication, Advocacy and Negotiation

You are interested in understanding what is humanitarian communication? You would like to deepen your knowledge of different types of communication applied in humanitarian contexts? You are curious about the relationships between the media and humanitarian organisations? You would like to understand the difference between humanitarian advocacy and negotiation? This short course will be of interest for you: Debate the challenges and trends of humanitarian communication and what is at stake, learn about the key actors in communication, assess the cycles and key components of humanitarian communication in crisis, prevention or peace-building contexts, analyse visual and textual messages.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to explain and analyse the main concepts related to humanitarian communication and the differences between them.

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge - Understanding of

  • communication in general (Who? For Whom? What? Why? When? How?)
  • the differences of humanitarian communication at international and operational levels
  • limits, constraints and debates in diverse communication strategies in the humanitarian field in times of crisis, prevention or peace-building
  • the changes brought by new media and technologies

Learning outcomes in terms of skills - Capacity to

  • decode media contents and messages (verbal, visual, literal)
  • categorize the different uses of humanitarian communication and its different forms/outcomes
  • develop critical skills to understand the different actors of communication and the needs of communication

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competences - Ability to

  • evaluate recommendations to reinforce collaborations between different communication stakeholders in the humanitarian sector
  • analyse the multi-faceted relation between the media and humanitarian organizations
  • assess the principles of an ethical humanitarian communication
  • nterpret the needs and the potentials of life-saving communication


2 ECTS - Credits recognized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.