MG460      Half Unit
Handling Disruption: Humanitarian Emergencies Management and Development

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chrisanthi Avgerou NAB 3.22 and Dr Shirin Madon NAB 3.31


This course is available on the MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Management, MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation, MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance and MSc in Public Management and Governance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course content is anchored on two observations: First, disasters and humanitarian emergencies are most frequent and most challenging and have the most devastating and long lasting socio-economic effects in poor counties with weak physical and institutional infrastructures. Therefore the course studies the management of emergency interventions in the broader context of socio-economic development. Second, information and communication technology (ICT) continues to open new possibilities for the mitigation, preparedness and response to disasters, but its effective use requires change in the collaboration of humanitarian organisations and affected communities. In this course we will examine critically the potential opened by ICT innovation for the handling of disruptions in the broader context of socio-economic development.

More specifically, the course will cover the following thematic areas:

a) The challenge of humanitarian emergencies and our capacity to address it: the link of episodic emergencies and long term development; the potential of ICT to address problems and enable development; ICT innovation and the development of organisational capabilities for effective emergency action and socio-economic development.

b) Managing emergencies: emergency logistics and supply chains; ICT innovations in humanitarian emergencies and information systems infrastructures to address mitigation, preparedness and response. Case studies and readings will examine emerging topics such as crowdsourcing and geographic and geodetic intelligence.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

The formative essay is intended to help students explore available literature on the topic of their summative assay and give them feedback on how to proceed.

Indicative reading

Comfort, L., Boin, A., and Demchak, C.C., (eds) (2010) Designing Resilience University of Pittsburgh Press.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (2011) Disaster Relief 2.0: The future of information sharing in humanitarian emergencies.  Washington DC and Berkshire, UK: UN Foundation & Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership.

IFRC (2013) World Disasters Report – Focus on Technology and the Future of Humanitarian Action, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Day, J.M., Junglas, I., Silva, L. (2009) Information low impediments in disaster relief supply chains, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10, 8, pp 637-660

Shklovski, I., Palen, L. and Sutton, J. (2008) Finding Community Through Information and Communication Technology During Disaster Events, Proceedings of the 2008 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 127-136.

Tusiime, E. and Byrne, E. (2011) Information Systems Innovation in the Humanitarian Sector, Information Technologies and International Development, 7, 4, pp. 35-51.

Garshnek, V. and Burkle, F.M.J. (1999) Applications of Telemedicine and Telecommunications to Disaster Medicine: Historical and future perspectives, Journals of America, Medical Informatics Association, 6, 26-37.


Project (30%, 3000 words), essay (60%, 3000 words) and class participation (10%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2014/15: 10

Average class size 2014/15: 10

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication