Humanitarian Action

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Program Overview

In response to the increasing number, scope and intensity of humanitarian emergencies, the field of humanitarian action has grown dramatically over the last 25 years, along with diverse career opportunities. This minor complements students’ other fields of study in arts and sciences, business, engineering, and nursing with the concepts, theories and skills to discern individual and collective responsibilities to respond to humanitarian needs at home and around the world. This unique interdisciplinary minor prepares students to learn, reflect and respond to humanitarian needs; advance moral commitments and ethically grounded action; serve as men and women for others; and alleviate human suffering and protect human dignity.

The program includes faculty with expertise in an array of disciplines including ethics, engineering, health, history, economics, management, and international affairs.

Students minoring in humanitarian action have opportunities to prepare for humanitarian action through the Humanitarian Action Club which raises awareness on campus about humanitarian issues and builds strategies for responding to humanitarian crises. Fairfield’s club is a member of the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) which encourages collaboration amongst network members and hosts a biennial skills-building conference for undergraduate students of Jesuit universities.

Humanitarian Action Program at Fairfield University


Students have the option of choosing from one of three foundational courses in ethics, history and politics that introduce humanitarian action. Each course covers the core material through different disciplinary approaches.

In addition to one foundational course, students must complete four elective courses. These electives are divided equally among context and analysis and skills and methods. Context and analysis courses focus on international organization, global public health, gender, war, peace, genocide, human rights, global security, historical perspectives on contemporary crises, border politics, migration, refugees and climate change.

To satisfy the two remaining electives in skills and methods, students may choose from a range of courses in such fields as anthropology, communication, management, law, information systems and grant writing. Elective offerings also include courses in international operations of non-profits, engineering, and field research courses in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Students may substitute one skills and methods elective requirement with the successful completion of a humanitarian action internship.

Students may double-count one context and analysis elective and one skills and methods elective from another major/minor. With the director’s approval they may substitute an alternative course for the skills and methods requirement.

The culminating experience for the Humanitarian Action minor is the Capstone Seminar.

One (1) Introductory Course

Choose one (1) of the following
POLI 2472: Politics of Humanitarian Action
HIST 2270: History of Global Humanitarian Action
AETH 2272: Ethics of Humanitarian Action
Two (2) elective courses in Context and Analysis 6 (3 each)
Two (2) elective courses in Skills and Methods 6 (3 each)
One (1) Capstone Course 3
Total 18

Course Offerings

First Year OR Sophomore Year Choose one of the following:
POLI 2472: Politics of Humanitarian Action
HIST 2270: History of Global Humanitarian Action
AETH 2272: Ethics of Humanitarian Action
Sophomore Year One course in context and analysis and one course in skills or methods
Junior Year One course in context and analysis and one course in skills or methods
HA Capstone – if all other requirements are fulfilled
Senior Year Complete any remaining electives
HA Capstone
POLI 2472 Politics of Humanitarian Action
HIST 2270 History of Global Humanitarian Action
AETH 2272 Ethics of Humanitarian Action
AETH 2276 Ethical Dimensions of Global Business Practices
AETH 2293 Ethics of War and Peace
ANTH 2015 Refugees and Culture
ECON 2140 Health Economics
ENGL 1130 Literature of the Holocaust
HIST 2274 Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Global Crises
INST 1051/POLI 1104 Introduction to International Relations
INST 2481 International Human Rights
PUBH 2240 Introduction to Global Public Health
POLI 2252 African Politics
POLI/INST 2471 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
POLI 2473 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training
POLI 2475 Climate Change: International Policy and Politics
POLI 2478 International Law
POLI 2479 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
POLI 2480 Border Politics
POLI 2481 International Human Rights
POLI 2258 Political Violence
POLI 4303 Gender, War and Peace
SOCI 1150 Introduction to International Migration
ANTH 3700 International Research Practicum
ANTH 3710 Anthropological Research Methods
COMM 3324 Crisis Communication
ENGL 1839 Grant and Proposal Writing
HUAC 3980 Humanitarian Action Internship
LCST 3301 Justice and the Developing World
MGMT 4350 International Law
MGMT 4370 Managing Non-Profit Organizations
RLST 2335 Liberation Theology
HUAC 4999 Humanitarian Action Capstone

Stag Spotlight

Tara Bailey headshot

Tara Bailey

Class of ’20

Get to Know Tara

Tara Bailey ’20, joined AmeriCorps NCCC for one year following graduation, working with a team on projects in Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma to strengthen undeserved communities. She currently works for FEMA as an Emergency Management Specialist where she was deployed to New Orleans for Hurricane Ida relief, providing free temporary housing to disaster survivors. Tara is now based in Washington, D.C. to rebuild FEMA’s Leadership Development curriculum, reconstruct the agency’s employee qualification systems, and create a mentorship program.

Timothy Salit headshot

Timothy Salit

Class of ’19

Get to Know Timothy

Timothy Salit ’19, majored in finance and minored in humanitarian action. Following graduation, Tim joined Deutsche Bank’s corporate and investment banking graduate training program in NYC. He is now an associate working with global teams to provide multinational corporations with foreign exchange, liquidity, and payment solutions. Leveraging his humanitarian action classes, he helps treasurers navigate different political social environments while also creating and executing environmental, social, and corporate governance strategies.

Nicole Wroblewski '18 headshot

Nicole Wroblewski '18

Newman Civic Fellow
Get to Know Nicole

A Newman Civic fellow, Nicole majored in international studies and minored in humanitarian action and health studies. She worked at the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Society for two years in fundraising, where she supported staff in Global Resources and the Center for Global Conservation. She received the Newman Civic Fellowship in 2016, when she advocated for Lakota youth on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

Nicole is currently an AmeriCorps VISTA, working at the Arizona Food Bank Network as the Native American Programs Coordinator. She has assisted in COVID-19 relief efforts in Navajo Nation and works with Tribal communities to create community led cross-sector coalitions to assess the root causes of child food insecurity and create corresponding solutions. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biology through the Global Field Program at Miami University.

Adrienne Sgarlato headshot

Adrienne Sgarlato

Class of ’17

Get to Know Adrienne

Adrienne Sgarlato ’17, worked at the U.S. Department of State Following graduation. Adrienne then continued her studies at American University School of International Service to complete her Master’s in International Affairs: Global Governance, Politics, and Security. She now works at the U.S. Department of State Office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, managing more than $10 million in foreign assistance for anti-trafficking projects in West Africa.

Emma Cannon ’14 headshot

Emma Cannon ’14

Peace Corps Volunteer
Get to Know Emma

A JUHAN fellow at Fairfield, Emma Cannon ’14 double majored in international studies and Spanish with a focus on Latin America. Emma was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala for two years, where she worked in support of the Healthy Schools Project, a national initiative that aims to improve basic health and hygiene in primary school students in rural Guatemala. She received the JUHAN Humanitarian Citizenship Award in 2014. She currently works at University Research Co., LLC (URC) & Center for Human Services (CHS) Support Zika Response activities in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and Jamaica. She is currently pursuing a degree in nursing.

Klevisa Kovaci ’14 headshot

Klevisa Kovaci ’14

Youth Assembly, United Nations
Learn More About Klevisa

Klevisa is an international development consultant and currently working for Youth Assembly at the United Nations, a program of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation. She has engaged in international organizations and work in France, Indonesia, India and China. She worked in UN Women in Kosovo and the Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN. Her specializations include democratization, gender and sustainable development. Klevisa has dual Master's degrees from Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris in International Affairs and Development. She graduated from Fairfield University, majoring in International Studies, Politics and French.

Julianne Whittaker '12 headshot

Julianne Whittaker '12

Fulbright Scholar
Get to Know Julianne

Julianne Whittaker '12 worked in the Humanitarian field in Jordan after completing an English Teaching Assistantship Fullbright in that country in 2013 and is the founder and co-director of the Amal Foundation which provides university scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan. She completed her Master's in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University in 2017. After graduating, she was a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) International Development Fellow in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and currently works for CRS as Livelihoods Program Manager in Iraq.

‌‌Julianne also received a Fulbright teaching scholarship to Jordan. Watch the video!

More About Humanitarian Action

Life After Fairfield

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Life After Fairfield

In response to the increasing number, scope and intensity of humanitarian emergencies, the field of Humanitarian Action has grown dramatically over the last 25 years, along with the paths for professional development and diverse career options.

Recent Fairfield alumni whose studies focused on humanitarian action have pursued careers in the field and graduate studies at leading institutions.

Learn how Fairfield's Career Services can support your post-graduate goals, and how our tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Visit the Career Center

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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The Humanitarian Action internship program is designed to foster students’ professional development by working with relevant international organizations, non-profit, media and business organizations, as well as national, state and local government entities dealing with issues of importance to humanitarian crises and disaster response.

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Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network

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Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network

The Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) was launched in 2008 through a joint collaboration between Georgetown, Fordham and Fairfield Universities as a way to raise awareness of the Jesuit ideology of “men and women for others” on Jesuit campuses, while working together to address the humanitarian need of those who are suffering. Learn more about this national network and how you can get involved.

Visit the JUHAN Website


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Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the innovative members of our Humanitarian Action Program.

Meet the Faculty

Student Work: Harnessing Blockchain for Change

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Student Work: Harnessing Blockchain for Change

Nicholas Ambrosino ’23, HA Minor and student in the Global Engagement course, had his assignment on “Harnessing Blockchain for Change” published.

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Student Work: Non-Binary Communities Need To Be Protected From Discrimination

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Student Work: Non-Binary Communities Need To Be Protected From Discrimination

Imagine feeling like you do not belong anywhere and that you are not entitled to help when you most desperately need it. Read more from Sophia Flionis ’23, HA Minor and student in the HONR 3301 Global Engagement course.
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