Expert meeting

What do Practitioners Really Need from Academics?

This summer The Hague was the setting for the fifth biannual World Conference on Humanitarian Studies. From 27 to 29 August, humanitarian scholars and practitioners from all over the world shared their thoughts and discuss the latest developments. The conference is an initiative from the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA), and this edition was jointly organized by KUNO.

Panel: What do Practitioners Really Need from Academics? Searching for Best Practices.

An expanding humanitarian enterprise in a changing political context needs more interactive analysis. This panel brought together examples of cross sector knowledge exchange that contributed to better humanitarian action. While there are frequent discussions with practitioners and academics, it remains a challenge to have in depth reflection or learning, where the involvement of academics is efficiently used for better results. In recent years, several new initiatives by humanitarian actors have started in different countries. In Europe there are several new NGO initiatives for reflection, analysis, cross-sectoral knowledge exchange and training. The focus of this panel was on such new initiatives to reshape reflection and learning in a changing humanitarian context.

This panel focused on the WHS Humanitarian Scholar Commitment on collaborative and inclusive research: We commit to make humanitarian research more collaborative and inclusive, especially with non-traditional knowledge actors and affected communities, and to ensure that knowledge is relevant to policy and practice. We asked in what ways humanitarian research can become more collaborative and useful for humanitarian practice. This includes searching for experiences with the commitment on localising humanitarian research and the commitment to increase the use of humanitarian research by cross-sectoral knowledge exchange.


= Rezaul Chowdhury, COAST Trust Bangladesh

To read the paper by Rezaul Chowdhury, click here.

= Einav Levy, Israeli School of Humanitarian Aid

To read the paper by Einav Levy, click here.

= Addy Adelaine, Ladders4Action

To read the paper by Addy Adelaine, click here.

= Relinde Reiffers, War Trauma Foundation

To read the paper by Relinde Reiffers (and others), click here.

The debate was facilitated by Martin Quack (Center for Humanitarian Action) and Peter Heintze (KUNO)

Click here to read the full report.

The International Humanitarian Studies Association

The theme of the conference was: (Re-)Shaping Boundaries in Crisis and Crisis Response. The IHSA website explains:

“The World Humanitarian Summit called for stronger bridges between humanitarian aid and development, and urged a rethink of humanitarian governance and practice with much more space for authorities, service providers and populations of crisis-affected settings. This leaves many questions open regarding the importance of humanitarian principles and the effectiveness of the humanitarian response.

This conference invited panels that examine boundaries from all different angles, ranging from the intentions and practices of government control, international law, the ways in which people organize themselves in the face of crisis, and the rapid transformation of technological limits and the boundaries of humanitarian action.”

There is much more information on the World Conference on Humanitarian Studies on the website of the IHSA.

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