Certificate in Human Security


Certificate Director: Peter Uvin
Henry J, Leir Associate Professor in International Humanitarian Studies
Peter.Uvin@tufts.edu  x72731

The certificate in human security provides guidance in course selection for those seeking a deeper professional understanding of the interactions among fields of social change, such as development, conflict resolution, human rights, and humanitarian assistance. Traditionally, practitioners and researchers seeking to promote social change across borders have tended to specialize in only one of these domains. As a result, they are often unaware of the positive or negative impact their actions may have upon the dynamics in the other fields, and vice versa.

We are now beginning to realize that in real life, in many situations, these fields cannot meaningfully exist without the other. Any progress made in one without attention to the others risks being sub-optimal at best and is often un-sustainable, since people who live in situations of extreme deprivation often face all these conditions simultaneously. Their lives are characterized by a combination of severe poverty, vulnerability to economic shocks, social exclusion, discrimination, and daily assaults on their human dignity, all frequently in a context of widespread violence and insecurity and accompanying violations of human rights.

In short, policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, and activists everywhere are coming to realize the urgent need for insights about the overlaps and interactions between the fields of development cooperation, humanitarianism, conflict resolution, and human rights advocacy. They need staff who are able to collaborate with people from other areas of expertise, a better ability to anticipate the likely impact that actions in field may have on other fields, and innovative strategies that cut across traditional professional borders.

A number of governments and international organizations have recently begun using the term "human security” to bring together the concerns and practices that deal with the many faces of, and close relations between, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Under this rubric is a broad variety of issues and trends, but they all share a) a desire to cross boundaries between fields of social change until now usually treated separately, and b) a strong ultimate focus on the inclusive well-being of all human beings. The Certificate in Human Security will be based on these principles.

Students who graduate with the certificate in human security will possess a deep understanding of the core issues and challenges that underlie all action for social change across borders, and be capable of leading inter-disciplinary teams for policy-making, research, field action, or advocacy. The Certificate builds on the strengths that The Fletcher School and its colleagues at Tufts have in all four these areas.

The Certificate consists of five parts: four introductory courses, which will acquaint students with each of the four fields whose concerns and methodologies need to be understood within a human security framework; 2 capstone courses laying out the cross-disciplinary framework of human security; first-hand professional exposure through an internship or prior professional experience; 2 courses allowing students to gain a degree of further specialization in one of the relevant fields; and the writing of a MALD thesis whose subject matter falls within the realm of human security.

1. Core (4 required)

Reflecting the overall interdisciplinary structure of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Certificate requires four introductory courses that have been selected in such a way as to provide a solid foundation for a cross-disciplinary professional practice in human security. These courses are:

Humanitarian Assistance D230 Humanitarian aid in complex emergencies
P216 International Humanitarian Policy and Public Health
Development P222 Development Aid in Practice
E242 Microeconomics of Development
Human rights L210 International human rights law
Conflict resolution D220 Processes of International Negotiation
D221 Seminar on International Mediation
D223 Conflict Resolution Theory

If students can demonstrate prior proficiency at any of these domains (whether through prior study or through professional experience), they will receive permission to substitute a more advanced course (for example, substitute L211 for L210). If one of the courses is not available in any year, another course may be substituted with the consent of the Certificate Director.

Students are expected to take at least three of these courses during their first year of study.

2. Capstone courses (Select 2)

Students will take two cross-disciplinary courses analyzing the theoretical and methodological implications of crossing the boundaries between the fields. Each of these courses will deal in detail with the way various perspectives have been brought to bear on specific issues of social change across borders. For the academic year 2008/9, the courses available are:

[P229] [Development and human rights]
P227 Advanced Seminar in Development and Conflict Resolution
[L215] [Transitional Justice]
D235 Research methods in Humanitarian Settings
D233 Daily Risks and Crisis Events: How People & Planners Cope with Vulnerability
D232 Gender, Culture and Conflict in Humanitarian Complex Emergencies

3. Specialization Courses (Select 2)

The two final courses for the Certificate will be chosen from the following list. They allow students to acquire more depth in the areas of relevance to the Certificate. Students may wish to use these courses to acquire more in-depths understanding of one of the fields.

Humanitarian Assistance D237 Gender, Culture and Conflict in Humanitarian Complex Emergencies
D213 Humanitarian Studies in the Field
Development L250 Law and development
E245 Managing Economic Reform in Low-Income Countries
E240 Development Economics
E241 Micro Development Economics: Policies for Alleviating Poverty in Developing Countries
B241 Micro-Finance: Issues and Breakthroughs
P228 Evaluation of Peacebuilding and International Development
CIS202 Interdisciplinary Approaches to One Health: People, Animals and the Environment
Human rights L211 Seminar on Current Issues in Human Rights
L212 Seminar on Self-Determination and Minority Rights
Conflict resolution L224 Seminar in Peace Operations
D227 Law and Politics of International Conflict Management
L252 Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies
P240 The Role of Force in International Politics
P245 Seminar on Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies
P297 African Communities in Crisis: Perspectives of war and its Aftermath
P212 State-formation, Conflict, and Intervention in Comparative Perspective: the cases of Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone

Students can choose any additional capstone as well.  Under exceptional circumstances, another course can be substituted with permission of the Certificate director.

4. Internship or Prior Professional Experience

Students enrolled in the Certificate in Human Security will benefit greatly if they acquire some first-hand professional exposure to the issues concerned. For that reason, students will spend the summer between their first and second year doing an internship that directly relates to the mandate of the Certificate. The choice of the internship has to be approved by the Certificate Director. 

5. Thesis: Deepening the Understanding

Students will write their final MALD thesis on a subject relating to the Human Security agenda, subject to approval of the Certificate Director. Students can work with the thesis supervisor of their choice. 

Questions regarding ADMISSION and/or to receive a CATALOG and APPLICATION can be sent to the Admissions Office at: FletcherAdmissions@tufts.edu

Questions related to this page can be sent to the Registrar's office at: Nora.Moser@tufts.edu

This page was updated in October 2008.