Educational Programs

The goal of the Engineering for Humanitarian Action (EHA) educational programs is to strengthen the capabilities of humanitarian actors by cultivating specialized technical knowledge and skills and by promoting critical thinking on the use of technology in humanitarian settings.

In line with this goal, three course programs have been or are being crafted: the Humanitarian Action in the Digital Age MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) and the Cybersecurity and Digital Supply Chain MOOC both by EPFL, the ICRC and MSF, and the Module on Policy, Geopolitics, and Strategy of Cybersecurity by the ETH Center for Security Studies (CSS).

Additional courses and workshops will be introduced in the future. If you are interested in developing new courses and workshops that align with our mission please get in touch.

Module on Policy, Geopolitics, and Strategy of Cybersecurity

ETH Zurich

In response to the ICRC’s need to enhance cybersecurity policy, geopolitics, and strategy for the humanitarian sector, the ETH Center for Security Studies (CSS) has developed a specialized course. Leveraging their expertise in these areas, the CSS regularly conducts courses on topics such as cyber operations, decision-making, state roles in cybersecurity, cyber power, and more.

Course Content:

The CSS course delves into strategic aspects of cyber operations, conflicts, and decision-making. It also explores broader areas like state involvement in cybersecurity, cyber power dynamics, cyber violence forms, public attribution, strategic communication, subversion, and power politics. The course equips participants with insights into the future landscape of cybersecurity.

Course Format:

The module is structured as a week-long, in-person block module at ETH Zürich. The course combines engaging lectures, collaborative group work, and practical case studies. Topics covered are cybersecurity policy, geopolitics, and strategy.

Currently, the course is only available for ICRC members. Please reach out to the EHA coordination team if you are interested in learning more about the course.

Next course date:

Summer / fall 2024

Most humanitarian organizations are already engaged in digital transformation. To respect the “do no harm” principle and to safeguard their independence and neutrality, they need to responsibly deploy new technologies centered on the needs of affected populations. This requires their staff to understand how to balance risks and benefits of digital technologies.

In this short interview, Philippe Stoll – Senior Tech Diplomat at the ICRC – discusses this MOOC that he developed with partners at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and EPFL.

Course Content:

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aims to equip humanitarian practitioners with a holistic understanding of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – including data protection, cyber security, digital supply chain, new technologies, and geopolitics. The learners should be able to better assess risks and opportunities, and to make informed decisions when confronted with new digital services and technologies.


This MOOC is designed for a wide audience of humanitarian workers with a certain responsibility in the field and HQ (middle – senior management, legal advisors or individuals involved in humanitarian diplomacy) holding a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree and having at least 2 years of professional experience. To follow the course, no specific IT knowledge is required. The MOOC is given in English, so a minimum command in English is needed (B2).

Course Format:

If you are interested to follow this training program, please register for free here.

Cybersecurity and Digital Supply Chain MOOC


Digital technologies and data have gained a tremendous importance in today’s world. An increasing number of processes (decision making, communication, consultation, commerce, law enforcement, etc) heavily rely on digital at every level of society (government, businesses, individual, communities, civil society). This evolution led to an increased exposure to a series of new risks, related in particular to cyber-security, over-reliance on a limited number of digital technology suppliers and surveillance.

In this context, humanitarian organizations must strive to improve their cybersecurity, to maintain their technological independence and their capacity to continue using digital services despite this sphere being increasingly pervaded by the tensions generated by armed conflict. Most importantly, they must integrate such risks in their assessment of civilian population vulnerabilities and needs, in order to be able to better serve them.

In order to do so, humanitarian staff must better understand cybersecurity, both from an organizational and from a geopolitical perspective. They must also be aware of the stakes related to the digital supply chain and its consequences on people and on humanitarian operations. 

Course Content:

The goal of this MOOC is to equip humanitarian staff with this knowledge,  allowing them to better engage in developing, integrating, and evaluating actions in the “digital” area as an essential condition to ensure the success of digital transformation. This training will contribute to preparing its workforce to an organization which, transformed or not, is and will increasingly be an active stakeholder in cyberspace.

Course Format:

This program is in production. Please stay tuned if you are interested in learning more about the course.


“Excellent course, one of the best I have attended to date thanks to the ICRC. Very well balanced, timed, with a variety of substantive topics and expert components.”

“This comprehensive MOOC has provided me with invaluable insights into understanding digital technology’s mechanisms and delving into advanced concepts like machine learning, cryptography, and distributed ledgers. The course went beyond the technical aspects of the digital landscape, thus emphasising ethics, accountability, inclusion and the centrality of humanitarian principles when designing and implementing digital solutions.”

Sofia Alessandra Nicoli , MA Candidate in International Affairs and Governance; about the Humanitarian Action in the Digital Age MOOC at EPFL

“The training was amazing and insightful. It offered deep knowledge on the latest trends in cyber security activities in the main active or conflict-infested regions in the world.”

Oscar Alex Malaa, ICRC Head of ICT, EURASIA Region; about the CSS Course at ETH Zurich (Aug - Sep 2023)

“By bridging the technology, academic and practical humanitarian applications, the course gives a well-rounded introduction to diverse and extensive areas of knowledge. Lots of things to consider and debate. The sections on humanitarian accountability in technology, power dynamics, community engagement, human-centred design, data protection, security, digital inclusion, digital risks, innovation lessons and opportunities were spot on.”

Heather Leson, IFRC Digital Innovation Lead; about the Humanitarian Action in the Digital Age MOOC at EPFL
“Positive experience with getting the point of view of researchers on the impacts of cyber operations in geopolitics and vice-versa. valuable references to other publications. To highlight the presentations from contexts like China, Russia and Belorussia too.”
Alfredo Bermudez-Salazar, ICRC ICT Coordinator, Rapid Deployment Team; about the CSS Course at ETH Zurich (Aug - Sep 2023)

“The course is extremely useful in the sense that it gives me a framework of analysis when approaching cybersecurity and geopolitics. And to be able to better understand this topic from a strategic and policy point of view. It also laid the ground of some key concepts in information security and threat intelligence. More importantly this course is very much tailored to the ICRC so it’s potentially helpful for me to listen to and reflect on how the ICRC can better positioned to handle various cyber threats.”

Yaoling Liu, Cybersecurity outreach coordinator, ICRC Delegation for Cyberspace; about the CSS Course at ETH Zurich (Aug - Sep 2023)

“I describe it as an eye opener and incredibly thorough, well researched and evidenced course; vital to shaping and informing our approaches as to how we deal with the various cyber related issues including informing who big players are in the industry.”

Tigist Gebru, ICRC Humanitarian Affairs Advisor; about the CSS Course at ETH Zurich (Aug - Sep 2023)