Elective Course Humanitarian Action
Dupaquier 2013

This module addresses the ideas and practices of humanitarianism, in particular the politics and management of humanitarian crises and organizations. In this vein, the module discusses the main critiques of humanitarian action and possible alternatives. It adheres to the idea that humanitarian aid should be provided from a long term perspective, otherwise it can either reinforce conflict and exclusion and neglect the root causes of (complex) crises or hinder access at a later stage of the crisis or during other crises.

This module is designed to help students think through the main practical and academic issues, dilemmas and debates in humanitarian affairs. Understanding these issues provides them with an insight in the broader context of humanitarian assistance, which helps to understand and explain strengths and shortcomings of such assistance, as well as the (limited) options for further improvement of humanitarian action. Important questions in this respect are “What are the roles of the local population during humanitarian interventions? How do humanitarian actors build on local capacities? Is humanitarian aid just a cover-up for the lack of political will? Can we link humanitarian aid to development? How can we improve its management?”

The module consists of weekly classes and a number of study trips. Topics include moral foundations of humanitarian action; legal norms of humanitarian action; the international system of actors and organizations; the role of the media; linking relief, rehabilitation and development; civil-military relations.
Students from this module receive a preferential treatment for admittance to the NOHA master (www.nohanet.org) in case all other requirements are fulfilled.

This module is open to students with a strong interest in interdisciplinary themes from all schools or faculties at Ruhr University Bochum. Requirements for participation: minimum 2nd semester, good knowledge of the English language (module is entirely taught in English), and a high degree of interest in international humanitarian action. Students from specific assignments dealing with humanitarian issues, such as
•    Geografie
•    Theologie (ev., kath.)
•    Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (SoWi)
•    Medienwissenschaft
•    Wirtschaftswissenschaft, Ausrichtung BWL
- can enroll in Optionalbereich.

Also, students who study
•    Bauingenieurwesen
•    Angewandte Informatik
•    Umwelttechnik und Ressourcenmanagement
- can enroll in this course as “Nicht-technisches Wahlfach“.

Students who study
•    Psychologie
•    Management and Economics
- can enroll in this course as “Nachbarfach” for the first, and “Studium Generale” for the latter.

•    Medicine
•    Law
- students can enroll as “Vorklinisches Wahlfach” for medicine, and law students can obtain the Fremdsprachenschein (§ 7 Abs. 1 Nr. 3, Abs. 3 JAG NRW).

Additionally, students from any other field of study are able to participate, space permitting. Taking into account the needs of humanitarian organizations, this course can be recommended to all above mentioned students. The IFHV will issue a participation certificate in any case.


The study trip is a compulsory part of this module. Required are three days, but you can compile the trips individually. You have to choose and register to the trips as soon as possible. Please sign up by Mail to tbc, because we only have limited spaces for some trips. She will inform you about the further registration process.

Students need to check this website for updated information continually.


Prof. Dr. Dennis Dijkzeul
Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)
Ruhr University Bochum (RUB)
Bochumer Fenster, 4th floor
Massenbergstraße 9 B
44787 Bochum
Room 4.09
Tel.: +49 234 32-27932
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.