A vital component of the Engineering for Humanitarian Action (EHA) partnership is developing an educational programme by the Swiss Institutes of Technology, teaming up with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It seeks to strengthen the impact of humanitarian actors by developing specific knowledge and skills of people working in various fields of the sector.
EPFL MOOCs on Digital Upskilling
Most humanitarian organisations are already engaged in digital transformation. To respect the “do no harm” principle, they need to responsibly deploy new technologies centred on the needs of affected populations. This requires their staff to understand how to balance risks and benefits.
Teaming up to meet this challenge, EPFL and the ICRC are producing two Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) to help humanitarian organisations to equip their workforce with a holistic understanding of Information and Communication Technologies. Acquiring these skills will allow humanitarians to adapt to new needs, better assess risks and opportunities, and make informed decisions.
The development of this ambitious training programme is a joint effort of the ICRC and two centers at EPFL , the Centre for Digital Trust (C4DT), and the EssentialTech Centre, supported by the Center for Digital Education. The partnership between the ICRC, its aim to widen its protection and assistance mandate to the digital sphere, and the excellence of EPFL in technology and digital education, makes this a unique offering. The partner’s ambitions are to bring changes in the whole humanitarian sector.
Audience and content
These MOOCs are designed for humanitarian workers without any particular IT background. Starting with basics about how computers, networks and the internet work, it will then allow the audience to grasp better the technical aspects of information security and data protection, cybersecurity as well as new technological trends (artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc). Links to day-to-day humanitarian work will be fostered through case studies and interviews with practitioners, such as ICRC staff.
ETHZ Module on Policy, Geopolitics, and Strategy of Cybersecurity
As a response to ICRC’s need to strengthen the expertise on policy, geopolitics, and strategy of cybersecurity for the humanitarian sector, the ETH Center for Security Studies (CSS) developed a course on the topic. The CSS routinely runs courses on these topics, including strategic aspects of cyber operations and cyber conflicts, decision-making in cyber operations, the roles of the state in cybersecurity more broadly, cyber power, forms of cyber violence, public attribution and strategic communication, subversion and power politics, as well as the future of cybersecurity. To run these courses, the CSS draws on expert research staff focusing on cybersecurity politics.
The module is being taught in a one week, in-person block module at ETH Zürich. The delivery includes a combination of lectures, group work, and case studies