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The Josef Korbel School Launches HAARG

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This year, the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies launched the Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group.  Through HAARG, an initiative of the School's Humanitarian Assistance program, students will gain hands-on experience, while providing needed services to humanitarian organizations.

"Some humanitarian agencies have significant research and evaluation needs that cannot be fulfilled internally due to staffing and other resource and capacity challenges," explains Courtney Welton-Mitchell, HAARG director.  "The students who participate in HAARG will fill these gaps as research assistants—working remotely from the DU campus.  Plus, they gain invaluable real world experience and build useful connections with influential people in humanitarian organizations."

"The Humanitarian Assistance program is focused on creating a variety of opportunities for our students to gain practical experience and apply skills learned in the classroom so that they are better prepared for their careers," adds Chen Reis, clinical associate professor at the Josef Korbel School and director of the Humanitarian Assistance program.

HAARG currently has 9 student research assistants working with various humanitarian organizations on projects located around the globe—including Libya, Syria crisis-regional (primarily Jordan and Lebanon), Gaza, Mali, Bangladesh, Nepal, Haiti, Colombia, and Honduras.  These projects focus on needs assessment, program evaluation and applied research with humanitarian organizations, mainly in the areas of global health, disaster mitigation, and interpersonal violence.

Kelly Harvard, a second year MA candidate in international development is a research assistant on a project based in Libya with International Medical Corps.  Harvard explains, "I'm working on a desktop review to inform and support a rapid assessment on health programming for persons of concern, mainly asylees, refugees and migrant workers. The recent conflict in Libya impacted the health infrastructure of the country and more information is needed on needs of vulnerable and unprotected populations living and working in Libya."  Once Harvard's work with the Libya project is completed, she will begin work on a secondary program evaluation with IMC Gaza.

In addition to International Medical Corps, HAARG's student research assistants are currently working with a range of organizations including:

  • Oxfam America
  • CARE International
  • Norwegian Red Cross-Americas
  • Norwegian Refugee Council

While working on HAARG projects, student research assistants receive support and guidance from seasoned professionals.  These include DU alumni, faculty with applicable experience, Welton-Mitchell who has worked with United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, independent researchers, and staff from the participating organizations.  "The HAARG structure allows students to work directly with project supervisors from organizations like CARE international and Oxfam while receiving support and guidance from the HAARG team and Director Courtney Welton-Mitchell," says Harvard.

The HAARG will begin recruiting research assistants for academic year 2014/15 during the fall of 2014. To learn more about HAARG and the Josef Korbel School's Humanitarian Assistance program visit