Free online course on Global Health and Humanitarianism (MOOC)

HCRI's massive open online course (MOOC) discusses the question 'is humanitarianism an effective, justifiable and sustainable response to ill-health, inequality, injustice and war?'

HCRI's work and teaching has an impact at a global level and the provision of the Global Health and Humanitarianism MOOC is another example of this. The course is offered free of charge to anyone and is available worldwide.

Through a mix of video, literature and peer-to-peer discussion, students go through a programme of education that covers the role and practice of humanitarianism in the modern world, and discusses the relevance, effectiveness and justification for integrated, collaborative humanitarian interventions in a world containing so much inequality.

The course discusses the vague (yet highly contested) concept of a global health agenda, the motivation and practice of crisis response by the world's wealthier countries and whether humanitarian assistance should be considered a right.

The course structure and contents are designed to challenge students to think beyond the operational and resource aspects of humanitarian support, and consider the greater context in which it is undertaken.


  • Understanding Global Health
  • Responding and Bearing Witness
  • The Right to Humanitarian Assistance and the Responsibility to Protect

To enrol on the course visit our page on Coursera.

Course content

The course explores questions such as:

  • Is humanitarian aid as a concept, as simple as the rich helping the poor?
  • Are these interventions well-meaning and effective?
  • Should governments be committing tax revenues – involuntarily given – to improve the health of others far away?
  • Do those that can afford it have a responsibility to act in some way?
  • What does receipt of aid mean for the recipient country, its leadership, its future, and its responsibility?
  • Must people be helped only according to need, regardless of what a regime might have done?
  • Must humanitarians remain neutral – silent perhaps – in the face of injustice in order to ensure access?
  • Must the causes of inequality, suffering and violence be ignored in favour of access, action and outcome?

Teaching staff

Includes video presentations from:

  • Tim Jacoby - Professor, Global Development Institute and co-founder, HCRI