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September 24, 2001

New On-Line Courses Provide
Grounding In Humanitarian Issues

An army special forces medic, a retired army colonel and a woman in Guatemala working for the U.N. are among those enrolled in two new on-line graduate courses that will lead to a Certificate in Humanitarian Studies.

These courses, offered through the College of Continuing Studies, give students the theoretical and professional knowledge to begin careers in this growing field, says Rodney Allen, who directs the program.

Participants are prepared for operational and administrative positions with non-governmental or governmental organizations.

This semester Allen, an assistant professor-in-residence at the Labor Education Center, is teaching a three-credit-hour seminar that examines theoretical and applied aspects of complex humanitarian emergencies.

The course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the needs of displaced persons and of systems and practices presently in place to meet these needs. There is a considerable amount of reading, writing and research in both courses.

Allen says such emergencies are not the product of one factor, but can stem from a range of natural events as well as national and international political, social, legal and cultural factors.

"There is usually some kind of war - civil or international - a failed government, and some aspect of starvation," he says. Cambodia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Rwanda and North Korea are examples of states that have experienced complex humanitarian emergencies.

During the first week of the course, students select a specific complex humanitarian emergency for a case study to be completed by the end of the course.

Another on-line course offered as part of the program in humanitarian studies is Applied Organizational Management, taught by Edward Sembor, associate extension professor at the Institute of Public Service.

Those who wish to enroll in either course need basic computer skills, Internet access, and an updated browser such as Netscape or Explorer. The courses include threaded discussions, synchronous chats, interactive exercises, and study groups.

The courses may be taken individually, or applied toward a post-baccala ureate certificate. They may also be used for credit for a forthcoming Master of Professional Studies degree in Humanitarian Studies, which is under development.

Other courses to be offered in the certificate program next semester will focus on humanitarian issues and human rights.

Sherry Fisher

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