SIT launches global MA in Humanitarian Relief and Crisis Management

Publication Date: January 14, 2019
Publication Location: Brattleboro, VT
Contact: Kate Casa  |

BRATTLEBORO, Vermont – Responding to one of the most critical global issues of the 21st century, School for International Training has introduced a groundbreaking new master’s degree that brings students face to face with real-world challenges and solutions to the crises that have displaced more than 68 million people worldwide.

SIT Graduate Institute is now accepting applications for the fully accredited MA in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management, which launches in fall 2019. This one-year program takes place entirely abroad, with students studying in Jordan and Uganda, countries that together host nearly three million refugees but take starkly different approaches to the issue. Students will also travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with international leaders of organizations that address refugee policy and management.

The new MA builds on SIT’s expertise in experiential-based learning and hands-on training in global settings, said Dr. Sophia Howlett, president of SIT.

“This global master’s degree in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management redoubles SIT’s commitment to justice and humanity by shaping leaders capable of mobilizing effective responses and better solutions to the plight of disaster-stricken populations,” said Dr. Howlett. “By immersing students in real-world humanitarian responses, our mission is to shape a generation of leaders equipped with the ethics, competencies, and passion to lead principled, effective, and innovative humanitarian solutions around the globe.”

The program is one of a range of globally focused master’s degrees offered by SIT Graduate Institute, a leader in global education and a pioneer in fields such as language learning, international education, and peace and conflict studies.

Last year, under Dr. Howlett’s leadership, SIT introduced a global master’s degree format, taught in SIT centers abroad, in which students take courses from top academics and meet with experts in the field. The new format draws upon SIT’s extensive global resources, including locally based faculty and staff who also work with more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities to provide undergraduate study abroad programs on seven continents. Twelve of these programs focus on migration, and others address migration within the context of other critical global issues.

Dr. Ken Williams, dean of SIT Graduate Institute, said this new MA responds to the growing need for a cross-cultural approach to humanitarian crises. “This groundbreaking program takes students on a journey to Jordan and Uganda to examine the creative methods used by local and global organizations to address the challenges faced by millions of people,” he said.

Students will spend the fall semester in Jordan, which hosts millions of refugees and displaced populations from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, many living in refugee camps. There, during emergency, post-emergency, and resettlement phases, students will have firsthand exposure to the humanitarian response of UN agencies including the UN High Commission for Refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, World Health Organization, and the United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund.

During the second semester in Uganda, students will witness one of the most progressive refugee protection policies in the world. As the largest refugee-serving country in Africa, Uganda hosts more than 1.35 million refugees primarily from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Somalia. During their third and final semester, SIT students will carry out a practicum at a refugee-serving agency in one of the two countries.

“As someone with over 30 years of humanitarian experience, I know that skilled and thoughtful management of crises and disasters is sorely needed,” said Abby Maxman, president and CEO of Oxfam America and an alumna of SIT Graduate Institute. “We live in a time with unprecedented numbers of people displaced from their homes around the globe, and with a tragically steady stream of emergencies coming at us through conflict, disease, famine, and natural events, many significantly worsened by climate change. This new SIT program responds to a global demand for compassionate, highly competent professionals.”

Dr. Bayan Abdulhaq, SIT’s Amman-based chair of the new program, said students will have an unparalleled opportunity to become immersed in real-world humanitarian responses to disaster-stricken populations. “This global humanitarian assistance master’s degree equips students with an expert understanding of the challenges facing today’s humanitarian action leaders and offers a global perspective on humanitarian response and crisis management,” she said.

The 36-credit MA is designed to prepare students for careers in a wide range of fields, including human rights, humanitarian aid and relief, international relations, development, nonprofit and NGO management, monitoring and evaluation, international law, public health, and gender equity.

Read more about this program.