Short course Digital Innovations in Humanitarian Action: Opportunities and Challenges 2023

From crowd-sourced data used to create crisis-mapping, to the expansion of drones to facilitate relief distribution, humanitarian innovations capture a large number of digital and technological creations meant to improve the efficiency of humanitarian assistance during emergencies.



16 October 2023 - 27 October 2023
2 ECTS credits
50 Distance teaching hours
Around 50 hours of work for the whole course, including: E-learning materials (videos, readings, forum discussions, individual and collective work, exercises, reflective analysis, role play) Live sessions (including online discussions)




Distance learning


Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies
+41 (0)22 379 56 50




Registration deadline

24 September 2023


Total fees: CHF 1’700.-

Deposit: (upon acceptance of admission): CHF 700.-

There is no available scholarship for this programme.


At the end of the course, you will be able to:
• Understand the past and current relation of the aid sector with technical and technological innovations
• Assess the main ideologies that inform the innovation turn in the aid sector and the entanglements between humanitarian governance and tech philanthropy
• Question data extraction, management, and protection by humanitarian organisations
• Differentiate potential uses and sectors for digital innovations, from health to information, translation, logistics, cash and voucher assistance
• Critically examine such innovations’ sociopolitical, ethical and technological challenges and limitations
• Discuss cooperation and collaboration with the private sector and the humanitarian innovations labs where objects and techniques are conceived and implemented


Professional in the humanitarian, development or social sector looking to develop their competencies in using digital innovations and new technologies
Professional from other sectors (donor agency, healthcare workers, communication and media, interpretation and translation, tech startups, engineering, logistics) who wishes to increase their understanding of digital innovations in humanitarian contexts
Graduate student with relevant volunteer or intern experience, looking to undertake a postgraduate course with a view to entering the humanitarian sector


Structure of the course

  • Rethinking innovation in the aid sector: historical and socio-anthropological perspectives
  • Technological determinism and global philanthropy
  • Ethics and challenges of innovations, data management and protection
  • Sector 1: Digital technologies for healthcare and people on the move
  • Sector 2: New information technologies for risk communication
  • Sector 3: Drones and humanitarian assistance
  • Sector 4: Blockchains and bitcoins in humanitarian programmes


Prof. Karl BLANCHET, Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, a joint Centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva

Admission criteria

  • University qualification (bachelor’s degree or equivalent)
  • At least three years of relevant professional experience
  • Excellent command of English
  • Motivation working in the humanitarian sector

Application File

  • Copy of identity document or passport 
  • Passport photo (.jpg format) 
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Cover letter (explaining what is the reason why you apply for this course and how will the acquired skills help you in your career)
  • Copy of the highest educational qualification obtained 
  • Copy of work certificate or official document of the current job position 
  • Proof of English language level 
  • Employer’s funding agreement, if applicable
  • Employer's letter of support (recommended)
  • Scholarship application form (if applicable). Please refer to

More information about the application process is available on our application page.