Welcome to Protection of Children in Disaster and War

Instructor Information:

Neil G. Boothby
E-mail: nb2101@columbia.edu

Lindsay Stark
E-mail: ls2302@columbia.edu

Course Outline

Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be able to analyze child protection concerns in acute and chronice emergencies, and design appropriate interventions to address a sub-set of these concerns, including for separated children, child soldiers and victims of violence.

This seven-week course explores operational ways of addressing child protection concerns in natural disaster and war. It examines child protection from both reduction of physical risk and promotion of developmental well-being perspectives. Participants will:

  • Develop a practical understanding of effective interventions for preventing and responding to specific child protection concerns, including child-family separations; child recruitment and use as armed combatants; sexual violence and abuse; and exposure to violence and other traumatic events.
  • Explore systemic approaches to promoting a "protective environment" for children in emergencies and post conflict-reintegration transitions.
  • Review methods and strategies for identifying critical elements of child protection and translating them into child protection programs as well as broader humanitarian response operations.

This course at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University will be linked to similar courses being offered simultaneously in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The Asian-based courses will be taught by faculty at the University of Indonesia (Jakarta) and Senior Associates of the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network hosted by the Institute for Participatory Interaction in Development (IPID) in Colombo. Participants in each university based course will pursue the same learning agenda, interact with one another on a weekly basis, and share the results of their respective group projects with an eye towards promoting cross country, cultural and regional learning.

This is the second in a series of global classroom courses to be offered through the Program on Forced Migration and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. In this sense, this spring 2011 course both builds on an earlier version piloted in North Uganda and serves as a second pilot initiative to help shape subsequent global classroom programs in other parts of the world. Participants will therefore be asked to critique the global learning components with an eye towards strengthening subsequent multi-country efforts in the fall of 2011 and beyond.


Global classrooms in New York, Jakarta and Colombo will pursue similar formats and course materials. Course concepts and field lessons will be taught through interactive case studies of acute and chronic emergencies. Case study materials- readings, videos, interviews with key practitioners and members of affected population- engage students in "real time" analysis and decision-making. Participants access all course materials- case studies, required and supplemental readings, documentary videos, films and other materials- electronically- through the Program on Forced Migration and Health's Global Classroom Learning Environment.

Classroom time may vary somewhat per country; however, in general, participants in all countries will spend approximately 90 minutes in individual classroom discussions; and approximately 90 minutes in global classroom discussions. Faculty at each university will facilitate the individual classroom discussions in a variety of ways that draw upon and integrate the week's assigned global lecture and required readings. The global classroom, in turn, will be led by a designated faculty member or outside expert discussant who will provide a 20 minute perspective on the given topic, and then facilitate a question and answer exchange amongst participants in all three countries.

Given the nature of the global classroom, participants are expected to come to their respective classes fully prepared to discuss and critique the assigned videos, readings and case studies each and every week.

Participants' conceptual understandings and knowledge will be assessed through their participation in class, completion of case study exercises, participation in global exchanges, and a final examination. In addition to regular course credit from the respective universities, a certificate of completion of the global classroom on the protection of children in disaster and war will be conferred to participants who receive a grade of 80% or higher.

Student grades will be based on:
Preparation and Participation in Individual Classrooms……. 30%
Global Team Assignments ……… 30%
Individual Final Exam ……….40%

1. Preparation and Participation in Individual Classrooms (30%)

Participants are required to watch a pre-recorded lecture and read the required readings on the topic for that week's class. Approximately 90 minutes will be spent discussing these topics within the individual classes in each country. 30% of a participant's grade will be based on thorough class preparation and informed participation in these discussions. Class attendance and contributions to discussion are mandatory.

In New York (Columbia University students), the class will begin promptly at 8AM in order to accommodate time differences in Asia. Students who enroll in the course therefore must make a commitment to being on time- and are encouraged to arrive 10 minutes early. Lateness and non attendance will count against this portion of a student's grade.

2. Country Team Assignments (30%)

Students in the three countries will be matched with one another and form global work teams. Each team is expected to complete a group assignment (usually a group response to a case study or dilemma) on a weekly basis. These assignments will be posted online in the Global Classroom Learning Environment.

Team discussions may take place through email exchanges, Skype exchanges and/or other means. The goal is to provide a group response- not individual responses- to each week's case study or dilemma. The response should include areas of "global consensus" across the three countries, as well as areas of "country differences" based on participants' diverse perspectives. We hope these exchanges will promote a realistic analysis of the relationship between global standards and guidelines, on the one hand, and local, cultural and social-economic adaptations, on the other.

Global classroom faculty will assign participants to groups and circulate the list with group members' emails. Thereafter, each group is expected to self-organize, including establishing how and when communication will take place, and how each week's written response will be assembled and entered into the Global Classroom blog located in the Global Classroom Learning Environment and will thus be available for all students and professors to view. Group responses should be approximately 750 words or two pages per week. It should reflect a robust discussion and summarize common and divergent perspectives.

Please note that given the team nature of these assignments, it is imperative that each member of every team contribute at a high level to group exchanges and assignments. A group grade (not an individual grade) will be assigned for these required exercises, so individual effort effects group outcomes.

3. Individual Final Exam (40%)

A final take-home examination is required. It is to be taken on an individual (not group) basis. The examination will be posted immediately following the final class, and participants must submit their answers to their respective professors one week thereafter.

The final examination will be comprised of questions submitted by global classroom participants. Each week, each country based class will post online (Global Classroom Question Forum) five questions that emerged as important from that week's readings and lectures. A subset of these questions, selected by global classroom professors, will comprise the final examination.

Course concepts are taught through lecture, interactive instruction, and engaged discussion on class readings as well as the content of the lecture. Students will apply concepts in class through small group case-study exercises. Students are expected to watch videos before class and there will be a live discussant facilitating dialogue between students in the three locations. Rigorous preparation and active participation are highly valued.

Students and faculty have a shared commitment to the School's mission, values and oath. http://mailman.columbia.edu/about-us/school-mission/

Academic Integrity
Students are required to adhere to the Mailman School Honor Code, available online at http://mailman.columbia.edu/honorcode.