Summer Timetable

POL380H1F L0101

Topics in International Politics

The Politics of Aid and Humanitarianism


This course explores the expanding scale of humanitarian and development aid operations by states, international organizations, NGOs and civil society actors. It is structured around two guiding questions. First, what are the effects of foreign aid on those who give and those who receive? Second, what are the boundaries of humanitarianism and how far can they be pushed? We will explore the ethical and moral dilemmas, theory, and practice of humanitarian and development aid. Theoretical concepts in international relations and aid will be applied to examples of aid and intervention in sub-Saharan Africa, Kosovo, Somalia and today’s War in Syria. Students will come to understand debates surrounding aid while strengthening their critical thinking and writing skills. Students will have an opportunity to apply concepts to real-world cases and develop an understanding of how past humanitarian action shapes choices during contemporary crises.


Readings will be available via blackboard and on reserve at the library.

Format and Requirements

This course depends on participation. Students are expected to come to class prepared, having completed all the readings. Each class will be a combination of lecture and discussion. Students will complete a 12-page research paper, preceded by an annotated bibliography, and draft. There will be a final exam.


POL208Y1 or POL208Y5 or (POLB80H3 and POLB81H3)