“Humanitarian Action: Climate Change and Displacements” (HumAct) is a 3-year project (2021-24) financed by the Erasmus+ programme – Capacity Building for Higher Education and is coordinated by ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal). The project partners are: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), University of Cape Verde and University of Santiago from Cape Verde and Pedagogical University, University of Pungue University of Rovuma, from Mozambique.
Humact is collaborative endeavor between two European and five African universities aiming at capacity building of the latter, in the area of humanitarian action in relation to climate change and displacements. The project responds to two main sets of challenges and provides an integrative solution to them. The first challenge is the enhancement of capacities in the field of higher education, and the second specifically responds to the professionalization needs in the humanitarian sector in these countries. HumAct proposes to address these by focusing on enhancing capacities of HEIs in the area of humanitarian action (HA) through curriculum development and skills development. The project was brought together following an assessment of needs of HEIs, identified through consultations with them and consideration of their national Higher Education Strategies.
The main aim is to build capacity in institutions of higher education in the area of Humanitarian Action in relation to climate change and displacements in the partner countries of Cape Verde and Mozambique in collaboration with institutions in the programme countries in Greece and Portugal.
Specific objectives are:
• Build capacity with regard to content in the substantive aspects of Humanitarian Action
• Build research capacity of educators and students with regard to HA
• Enhance the pedagogical strategies of educators
• Strengthen community outreach and engagement
The project is innovative in the following ways:
• Inclusion of various stakeholders, including community members who have been directly affected by humanitarian disasters, in curricula development.
• A focus on the university-community nexus with mutual learning across both.
• Decolonization of HA curricula, by including Afrocentric values such as Ubuntu, informed by the ethical principe of respect for the inherent dignity of humanity.
• Building capacity in the use of innovative, participatory and emancipatory pedagogical strategies, and highlighting the power of reflexive dialogue both in the classroom and with community groups.
• Focusing on HEIs as a whole; including various disciplines to engender an institutional culture that is responsive to HA; and underscoring of the importance of inter and transdisciplinarity in HA.
It’s collaborative, social justice and people-centred approaches have much to offer in preventing humanitarian disasters, mitigating their effects, and in working towards theSustainable Development Goals. The planned curricula, and the associated capacity building activities – between the partner and programme institutions; educators and students; and HEIs and communities – are designed to be dialogical and democratic, informed by a mutual respect and regard for what each has to offer. The majority of HA workers engage in “on the ground” work against a rapid and intensely globalizing world, and in doing so often bridge the local-global and the micro-macro divides. HA workers witness on a daily basis the suffering engendered by political and economic decisions and policies on the lives of people. They are thus in strategic positions to contribute to the development of humane and just policies, challenge those that are harmful and bridge macro and micro level analyses and interventions. The new and adapted curricula will be designed to achieve these, despite the limitations imposed by neoliberal capitalism and new managerialism.