Podcast LifeLongLearning@UNIGE

Saison 1 – Épisode 10

For this 10th and final episode of season 1, recorded in English, we had the pleasure of welcoming Professor Karl Blanchet and Dr Valérie Gorin from the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, a joint Centre of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Many of you may have known the Centre under its former acronym, the CERAH, the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action.

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Professor Karl Blanchet is the Director of the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies and a Professor in Humanitarian Public Health at the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine. Before joining the University of Geneva, Professor Blanchet worked in health systems research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and was the co-founder and co-director of the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre.

Professor Blanchet’s research focuses on system resilience and health systems issues in global health, specifically in post-conflict and conflict-affected countries. He has developed innovative research approaches based on complexity science and system thinking, and focuses on Women, adolescents and Child Health in humanitarian settings. Professor Blanchet is also developing a priority package of essential health services for countries like Afghanistan and, more generally, for humanitarian crises.

Professor Blanchet is also the Academic Director of InZone, a University of Geneva academic project offering university courses for refugee populations. In early 2021, Prof. Blanchet was nominated to represent the University of Geneva in the Steering Committee of the Geneva Hub for Education in Emergencies, a new initiative of the Swiss Government.

Dr Valérie Gorin is the Head of Learning at the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies and a Senior researcher at the University of Lausanne and Lecturer in History in the Unidistance programme. Her research focuses on the visual culture of humanitarianism, the history of communication and humanitarian action and the evolution and uses of photojournalism in modern times. She is currently doing research on virtual reality in humanitarian appeals, and on the link between citizen photojournalism, (eye)witnessing and advocacy strategies in humanitarian settings.

Dr Gorin holds a PhD in communication and media sciences from the University of Geneva, which she obtained in September 2013. Her PhD focused on the photojournalistic coverage of humanitarian crises in American and French newsmagazines from the 1960s to the 1990s.

She carried out research on media and communication and taught qualitative methods for social sciences between 2007 and 2013 at University of Geneva’s Department of Sociology. She also contributed to the SNF research project about the commemorations of the 1917 October revolution, at the University of Lausanne from 2015 to 2017.

Episode presentation

For the final episode of our podcast’s first season, we tackled issues revolving around the field of humanitarian action. The Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies recently changed its strategy and outlook in terms of continuing education and it was great to have the opportunity to ask Karl Blanchet about his vision for the Centre and Valérie Gorin about what this means in terms of learning design, especially with regard to the new structure of the Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action.

We made the most out of the presence of our experts to discuss some of the important current humanitarian issues. We talked about the tragic endgame in Afghanistan, the ongoing refugee crises, and the impact of COVID on humanitarian aid and programs. We also had a very open conversation about some of the critiques of the field of humanitarian intervention, but also how training and continuing education may contribute to improve some of the sector’s shortcomings.

It was a tremendous pleasure to speak with our two guests and fascinating to hear everything that the Geneva Centre of humanitarian studies has to offer in terms of expertise. It was also inspiring to see how seriously its leaders take the importance to accommodate for various learning goals, paths and journeys.