Development and Humanitarian Assistance 

To meet the challenges of a world with a growing population, affected by human-made and natural disasters, the Development and Humanitarian Assistance career track prepares students to support international development and humanitarian operations. Students completing this career track gain the skills and knowledge needed to develop and implement new approaches to address these challenges.

The international community has made great strides in reducing poverty and improving livelihoods around the world. Despite this progress, exemplified by the success of the UN Millennium Development Goals, much more can alleviate human suffering and create the conditions for economic opportunity.

This track draws on the Maxwell School’s experience in program management and evaluation, pairing this with technical skills in program and project design, as well as the cultural and regional understanding needed to ensure that relief programs are appropriate to the needed target environment.

Course offerings focus on health, education, environmental sustainability, state-building and democratization, social change, economic growth, humanitarian assistance, and the political and cultural context of these operations.


Public Administration and International Affairs Faculty

John McPeak, Advisor
Constance Freeman*
Masoon Hyder
Steve Lux
Rebecca Peters
Sabina Schnell

(*teaches in Maxwell-in-DC program)

Maxwell Faculty

Merima Ali (ECN)
Hans Buechler (ANT)
A. Peter Castro (ANT)
Azra Hromadzic (ANT)
Audie Klotz (PSC)
Amy Lutz (SOC)
Devashish Mitra (ECN)
Deborah Pellow (ANT)
Tom Perreault (GEO)
Robert Rubinstein (ANT)

Core Course Recommendations

Development and humanitarian assistance work requires an understanding of changing conditions on the ground, the ability to work at the non-governmental, intergovernmental, and international level, understand how to use economic and statistical analysis to assess the policy impact of interventions, and conduct research conduct to support programming or policy analysis.

As such, students are encouraged to consider the following classes for their core requirements:

  • Economics: PAI 720 Principles of Economic or PAI 723 Economics for Public Decisions.
  • Management of Programs and Staff: PAI 762: Challenges of International Management and Leadership or PAI 763: NGO Management in Developing and Transitional Countries.
  • Research Design and Evaluation: PAI 705: Research Design for IR Practitioners, PAI 722: Quantitative Analysis, or ANT 681 Ethnographic Techniques
  • Signature Course: PAI 707: Culture in World Affairs or PAI 716: Economic Dimensions of Global Power.

Development and Humanitarian Assistance Course Offerings

ANT 624             Negotiation: Theory and Practice
ANT 679             Anthropology of Global Transformation
ANT 663             Global Health
ANT 683             Social Movement Theory
LAW 831             Refugee and Asylum Law
PAI 601               Fundamentals of Conflict Studies
PAI 700               Food Security
PAI 713               Governance and Global Civil Society
PAI 715               Global Sustainability and Public Policy*
PAI 719               Fundamentals of Post-Conflict Reconstruction
PAI 757               Economics of Development
PAI 764               UN Organizations: Managing for Change
PAI 765               Humanitarian Action: Challenges, Responses and Results
PSC 681             Comparative State-Society Relations
PSC 682             Social Theory in the Middle East
PSC 700             Civil Wars
PSC 758             Global Migration

(*taught in Maxwell-in-DC program)

Career Outcomes

Due to the ongoing need for highly trained development and relief professionals, students pursuing this career track prepare themselves for positions similar to the following:

Non-Government Organizations

Deputy Chief of Party-Mongolia, Chemonics International
Zimbabwe Country Director, Mercy Corps

Government Service

Private Sector Cooperation Manager, German Agency for International Cooperation
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Agency for International Development

International Civil Service

Head of Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross