Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff explore the complex history of the humanitarian sector

Topics included the history of slavery and anti-slavery in Manchester, the Partition of India, and mass violence in post-independence Zimbabwe.

The University’s Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) co-delivers a unique, flexible master’s course - the LEAP programme - designed for humanitarians to study alongside their work in the field.

This month, staff from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) enrolled on the programme participated in a series of online workshops and guest lectures with a focus on the historical contexts of humanitarian response. This week-long series was organised and delivered by HCRI’s Dr Antoine Burgard , Dr Luke Kelly , Panagiotis Karagkounis and Niamh Hanrahan.

Guest lecturers included Dr Uttara Shanai , who talked about her research on forced relocation in the British Empire; Zenzele Ndebele , who explored the politics and memory of the Gukurahundi massacres in Zimbabwe; and Dr Maria Cullen who presented on HCRI’s Wellcome Trust-fund project on humanitarian medicine led by Prof Bertrand Taithe.

In November 2023, the same MSF cohort visited Manchester and Liverpool for a series of intensive classes and networking sessions, delivered by HCRI and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

By bringing together medical and humanitarian workers with social scientists, historians and global health scholars, the LEAP programme stimulates critical reflection on humanitarian work and the wider humanitarian agenda. Student testimonials can be found on the Leadership Education Academic Partnership website.

For more on MSF and its life-saving work, visit.