Training & Workshops: The Humanitarian Space

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19 Jan Capacity Development course, January 2015

Capacity development has been emerging as a central approach within development for more than two decades. This approach has gradually shifted the focus of development practice from simple financial aid and technical cooperation towards a complex new paradigm that encourages and demands active involvement and ownership from the people and communities involved in aid programmes. The approach takes into account the broader political, social, and economic environment in which change takes place. Capacity development co-exists and is supported by older forms of development practice, and is a continuously shifting paradigm as experience informs policy, practice and theory.

To help you better understand and master this complex paradigm, this course introduces the key concepts, principles and values of capacity development. The main focus is on building practical skills for better design, planning, implementation and assessment of capacity development initiatives.

Course materials are based on the Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD) Learning Package on Capacity Development, and were developed with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), LenCD, and Learn4Dev.

This course is conducted entirely online over a period of nine weeks. Reading materials and tools for online interaction are provided through an online classroom. The course is based on a collaborative approach to learning, involving a high level of interaction. Each week, participants read an assigned module text, adding questions and comments as hypertext entries. Lecturers, guest experts, and other participants read and respond to these entries, creating interaction based on the module text. During the week, participants complete additional online activities (e.g. further discussion via blogs or forums, group tasks, short assignments). At the end of the week, participants, lecturers, and guest experts meet online in a chat room to discuss the week’s topic.

Please note that due to the spread of course participants across time zones worldwide, scheduled online session times may not fall within working hours for all participants. Some participants may need to attend online sessions during the morning or evening hours.

This course requires a minimum of five to seven hours of study time per week. Before you apply, please consider carefully whether you can commit the necessary time in order to complete the course successfully

Successful participants will receive a certificate issued by DiploFoundation and LenCD.

Applicants must have:

  • At least two years experience working in the development field at the sector, national, regional or international level, with preference given to applicants already working in capacity development.
  • Sufficient knowledge of the English language to undertake postgraduate-level studies (including reading academic texts, discussing complex concepts with other course participants, and writing short essays).
  • Regular access to the Internet (dial-up connection is sufficient, although broadband is preferable).
  • Sufficient time for online study, which requires five to seven hours per week.
How to register:

To apply, please fill out the online application form for this course.

Please upload a motivation letter with your application (maximum 1 page) indicating:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background, including your personal objectives and plans for the future.
  • Reasons for your interest in this course.
  • Why you feel you should be selected to participate in this course: how your participation will benefit you, your institution and/or your country.
  • If you are applying for a scholarship (only available to developing country applicants) please include the name and e-mail address of a referee in your organisation.

Late applications will be considered only if places remain in the course. In case of enquiries, please contact us


01 Mar Strengthening Policy and Practice: meeting the challenges of working in complex environments

Dates: 1st – 6th March 2015 

Location: Birmingham, UK

Course fee: £1100 (includes full board accommodation from the evening of 1st – afternoon of 6th March)

Course description

Strengthening Policy and Practice: meeting the challenges of working in complex environments is designed to draw on the experience and practice of participants, working in development, humanitarian aid or peacebuilding to influence internal policies and programmatic approaches. The course will identify how organisations can strive to balance their organisational mandate with the demands of working in complex and rapidly changing political contexts.

Course aims

The course will enable participants to contribute to developing constructive organisational and programmatic policies that will guide practical responses in the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding fields. It will draw on the experience of participants and tutors to examine the key issues that are emerging from field-based work.  

Course objectives

Participants will:

  • deepen their understanding of their work, from a conflict transformation perspective
  • apply appropriate  conflict analysis to their own organisational contexts
  • explore the relationship between organisational policy and practice in situations of instability, conflict or violence
  • examine issues relating to aid and conflict in order to develop conflict sensitive policies for their organisations
  • consider the key policy and practice issues relating to the prevention of violent conflict and of building peace
  • strengthen their competence to contribute pro-actively to the development of appropriate policies and best practices in their organisation/ institution for working in environments affected by conflict or violence

Suitable for

This course is for staff of international and national agencies and those with advisory and management responsibility for emergency, reliefdevelopment, and peacebuilding programmes. It is particularly relevant for those engaged in the planning and implementation of field-based programmes, and those concerned with developing policies for appropriate responses in complex political emergencies. 

March 2014 participant feedback

This “training has enabled me to assess my organisation, to identity our strengths and weaknesses and how to begin transforming our weaknesses to our strengths."                          

There was a positive environment for learning and encouraged us to learn from each other.”

 These are useful tools for strengthening and building capacity at all levels – as a freelance consultant – there are many opportunities to be transformative and technical”.

 “The shared discussions among participants were very helpful for better understanding…. It helped me to see the wider image of the work that I am doing”.

For more information about the course and to apply, please complete the application form or contact us at


13 Mar Palestine Refugees and International Law


This two day short course places the Palestinian refugee case study within the broader context of the international human rights regime. It examines, within a human rights framework, the policies and practices of Middle Eastern states as they impinge upon Palestinian refugees. Through a mix of lectures, working group exercises and interactive sessions, participants engage actively and critically with the contemporary debates in international law and analyse the specific context of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel).

The short course commences with the background of the Palestinian refugee crisis, with special attention to the socio- political historical context and legal status of Palestinian refugees in the region. This is followed by a careful examination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including its philosophical underpinnings and ensuing human rights instruments in international law. The key themes, which have taken centre stage in the debate on the Palestinian refugee crisis, are statelessness, right of return, repatriation, self-determination, restitution compensation and protection. These themes are critically examined along with current discussions about the respective roles of UNRWA, UNHCR and the UNCCP in the Palestinian refugee case.

This course is suitable for: experienced practitioners; graduate researchers; parliamentarians and staff; members of the legal profession; government officials; and personnel of inter-governmental and nongovernmental organisations.


13 Apr Health systems through conflict and recovery

Date: 13th to 24th April 2015 
Venue:  Pisa, Italy 
Millions of people do not have access to health care, because health systems in many countries are either non-existent or dramatically failing. Most of them live in areas chronically affected by violent conflict or slowly re-emerging from it. 
The volatility and complexity of conflict and post-conflict contexts post daunting challenges to health workers - both national and international - who are called to rehabilitate derelict health structures. Lack of properly prepared professionals in this field has often resulted in reconstruction efforts characterised by weak analysis, little understanding, inadequate planning and poor implementation. This training programme intends to alleviate this gap. 
The Course aims to:
- Introduce participants to the main features of conflict-ridden environments
- Identify and discuss the main features of health systems during protracted crises and recovery processes and the most common distortions plaguing healthcare provision
- Analyse and reflect upon the challenges faced by health actors in countries affected or recovering from a conflict
- Introduce participants to recovery processes to the dangers they pose and to the opportunities they provide for correcting long-standing distortions and creating more efficient and fair health systems
- Familiarise participants with the existing literature in this field and stimulate their interest in conducting further research
The following topics will be covered: 

- The conflict environment; international and humanitarian law; the aid system and its politics; aid management;
- Information and intelligence in protracted crises
- The interpretation of epidemiological and mortality data in protracted crises; communicable diseases and conflict
- Health policy analysis, planning and financing in troubled health sectors
- Health-related resources: personnel, medicines, facilities, and their management
- Contributing to the recovery of disrupted health sectors, through analysis, research, negotiation, appraisal of options, and forecasting



06 Jul International Summer School in Forced Migration

The International Summer School in Forced Migration fosters dialogue between academics, practitioners and policymakers working to improve the situation of refugees and forced migrants.

The Summer School offers an intensive, interdisciplinary and participative approach to the study of forced migration. It aims to enable people working with refugees and other forced migrants to reflect critically on the forces and institutions that dominate the world of the displaced.

The three-week course combines the very best of Oxford University’s academic excellence with a stimulating and participatory method of critical learning and reflection. 


23 Feb Humanitarian Diplomacy Diploma Course (Feb 2015)

We are now accepting applications for the February 2015 session of the Humanitarian Diplomacy online diploma course, offered by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in cooperation with DiploFoundation. This 12-week course, led by Ambassador Christopher Lamb, extends the knowledge base and develops practical skills of current and future practitioners in humanitarian diplomacy and policy. In a supportive international online environment, the course familiarises participants with basic definitions, concepts, actors, and institutions in the field of humanitarian diplomacy, introduces international humanitarian law, hones advocacy and negotiation skills, develops participants’ research skills, and increases their understanding of national and regional humanitarian diplomacy activities.

This course is currently offered in English, however participants who are more comfortable with French will have the option to write and submit some course assignments and the final research paper in French.

The course starts on 23 February 2015. The application deadline is 12 January 2015. For more details and to apply, please visit the course webpage. Contact us in case of questions. 
What do former participants say about the course?

In this short video, alumni member Sabrina Konzok from the German Youth Red Cross explains the value of the international exchange of ideas and experiences which the course facilitated.

In another video, alumni member Dolf van Muijen from the Netherlands Red Cross explains how the course was both inspiring and enabling due to the interaction with highly experienced tutors and other participants from diverse backgrounds. The course allowed him to take a step back from his day-to-day work to reflect on his practice and how it fits into a wider humanitarian diplomacy strategy.

Margarita Griffith, Learning Officer, America Zone Office, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Panama, says that ‘both professionally and personally, I now have a broader understanding of the humanitarian world, the fundamental laws and principles, and the different actors who are part of it. This has expanded my thinking about possible partnerships and alliances in order to strengthen my work in the Federation, and the different aspects and steps I need to consider in order to make such partnerships happen.’ Read an interview with Margarita on Diplo’s blog.


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