Higher Education in Emergencies

Today the average conflict lasts 10 years, and families remain in internally displaced person (IDP) camps for an average of 17 years. While humanitarian programming often focuses on life-saving activities, the failure to prioritize education in general – and higher education in particular – leaves entire generations uneducated, developmentally disadvantaged, and unprepared to contribute to their society’s recovery.

The HEiE course will explore post-secondary education in emergency and protracted settings through the following 5 modules:

Module 1: International Law & Policies

Module 2: Foundations of Digital Learning

Module 3: Programme Design & Implementation

Module 4: Research in HEiE and Monitoring & Evaluation

Module 5: Capstone Projects

Participants will be provided with a conceptual framework for Higher Education in Emergencies (HEiE). Through this framework, participants will examine scenarios and design solutions focusing on four different, yet interrelated dimensions:

  1. Access to higher education and techno-pedagogical support, including on-site and virtual tutoring and mentoring schemes;
  2. Quality of virtual learning in fragility, including learning platforms, curriculum design, teacher and tutor training, accreditation and credentialing schemes, and partnerships with local universities;
  3. Mapping of higher education domains relevant to these learners within the framework of 21st Century Skills; and
  4. In-the-field management and implementation models.

The course will include high-level seminars with faculty and field experts, which participants will apply to real-world case studies (Capstone Projects) through collaborative learning, tutoring sessions and project presentations. They will also gain an understanding of how multiple pedagogical resources can be leveraged efficiently and effectively to produce sustainable outcomes in fragile contexts.


NOTE: Higher Education in Emergencies Summer School 2019 will take place in Kenya


Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, participants will have developed a conceptual framework to be able to:

  • understand the potential and limitations of HEiE;
  • analyze emergency and protracted contexts to evaluate possibilities for implementing HEiE projects;
  • assess the potential of different pedagogical models – including on-site and virtual delivery modes – to contribute to project outcomes and sustainability; and
  • identify the humanitarian actors, including staff and beneficiaries, needed to jointly manage the multiple components of a HEiE project.



Participants receive continuous formative and summative assessments for individual and collaborative learning activities embedded in the course. Collaborative work on real-world cases will allow them to test their knowledge and skills. Participants will also receive feedback from an expert jury on their solutions.


Target Audience


This course is designed for:

  • Humanitarian practitioners
  • Graduate students and faculty in international relations, international education, and educational technologies
  • Representatives of donor organizations whose mission and mandate includes education and higher education
  • Representatives of Education Ministries


Cource Credits and Certificate

You may be eligible for 4 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits. Please see further information here.

Students will be provided with a Certificate of Completion for their course if they satisfy attendance.

Please note that this is not an official University of Geneva transcript, as Geneva Summer Schools courses are not accredited University of Geneva courses. It is the students’ responsibility to validate their course for credit at their home university before commencing the summer school, as specified in our Regulations.



Please note: Changes to the draft program may be made at any time prior to the start of the course.

Tuition fees (all): 2700 CHF

UNIGE students: 500 CHF

Academic Director


Professor Barbara Moser-Mercer
Director, InZone (Centre for Interpreting in Conflict Zones)
University of Geneva

Barbara Moser-Mercer is a Professor of conference interpreting in the Interpreting department at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Geneva. Her research focuses on cognitive and cognitive neuro-science aspects of the interpreting process and on the human performance dimension of skill development.

She has co-developed the Virtualinstitute©, the first fully integrated virtual learning environment for interpreters, which she leverages in partnership with ICRC, ILO, UNHCR, UNAMA and MSF for enhancing interpreting skills of interpreters working in conflict zones; she is founder and Director of InZone.

She was a member of the High Level Group on Multilingualism of EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban, coordinated the European Masters in Conference Interpreting, a consortium of 11 European graduate programs in conference interpreting funded by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

She is also an active conference interpreter, member of AIIC’s research committee.


Teaching Faculty

All modules are taught by international faculty. (more details will be confirmed soon)


Submitted by Heather - | April 18, 2017

Wonderful connections, rich professional experience!

As part of the first 2015 cohort HEiE summer school, I felt privileged to meet and learn from scholars and practitioners who are meaningfully engaged in the field currently. And I'm talking about presenters and fellow participants! With a fondue dinner and UNHCR HQ tour, the programme was filled with professional and social activities. Happy to recommend! (GoAbroad Review)



Submitted by anonymous - Geneve Switzerland UNIGE | March 24, 2017


This HEiE summer school 2016 course in UNIGE was very rich, useful and beneficial, full of deep and professional information as well as exposure to real life humanitarian situations and THE possibilities in emergency situations. Also building connections with other scholars is important. (GoAbroad Review)
Geneva Summer Schools

International Affairs
Université de Genève
40 Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Genève 4