Humanitarian Collaborative

Humanitarian Collaborative

SIF165 Humanitarian Collaborative

Project Manager: David Leblang

The purpose of this award is to create a cross-Grounds, interdisciplinary research initiative to address global humanitarian crises.

Approved: Summer 2019

Project Dates: 1/01/2020 - 12/31/2023

Funding Awarded: $600,000

Executive Summary

The refugee crisis has increased in intensity over the past few years and will only worsen under climate change. A new camp model must be created that both helps protect children and improves the environment, health, and education for these vulnerable populations. This collaborative cross-grounds project will look at the consequences for long- and short-term refugees and help figure out interventions, testing them in real-world scenarios. A bridge between democracy and sustainability, the project will bring together public health science, social science, statistics, and policy to look for new solutions for organizations like the United Nations.

Current Status: Active


Our SIF project, originally called the Humanitarian Research Exchange (HRX)—and renamed the UVA Humanitarian Collaborative (HC)—is motivated by the premise that greater collaboration between practitioners and academics will enrich both research and practice, increasing UVA’s influence within the global humanitarian engagement sphere.

Our proposal envisioned expanding academic-practitioner partnerships and activities that facilitate real time public policy impact. To do this, we use involve Practitioner Partners (formal MOUs between UVA and global humanitarian organizations) and Practitioner Fellows (experts who have joined the Humanitarian Collaborative on a permanent or temporary basis).

Building on the success last year, we expanded our partnerships, resulting in wider global presence (in Jakarta, London, Nairobi, and beyond) and broader dissemination and uptake of our work. We extended our cross-Grounds interdisciplinary partnerships to incorporate 14 faculty. Beyond UVA, we established and deepened 16 influential Practitioner Partnerships with organizations including the Sesame Workshop, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the United Nations World Food Programme, Tufts University’s Feinstein Center, the Lego Foundation, and Innocenti, UNICEF’s Office of Research. And we have worked in close collaboration with 11 Practitioner Fellows.

To sharpen our focus on substantive problem areas where we could have the most influence, we consolidated our thematic areas into three: Early Childhood Development in Emergencies; Migration and Displacement; and Humanitarian Advocacy and Operational Effectiveness.

We continued to deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by actively bringing in voices of the Global South in our research and policy engagement. One example of this is a new applied research initiative on adolescents and children in emergencies with researchers from the Global South and the Global North. We are also launching a new project to elevate the voices of children and families in emergency contexts with the Lego Foundation and the Moving Minds Alliance.

Importantly, this year we provided timely commentary and policy recommendations for the Ukraine crisis. Our team responded immediately to the crisis, publishing op-eds, sharing expertise on National Public Radio, the Washington Post, the Conversation, and speaking at UVA and beyond. We have built the Ukraine conflict into existing projects and added more specific ways to address that high-profile crisis while, all the while, identifying implications for other crises around the world.