DiploFoundation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have worked together to offer an interactive online course on Humanitarian Diplomacy since early 2012. The course is open to people both within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and beyond, with significant focus on sharing of relevant professional experience.
In this short interview (January 2014), Bente MacBeath, Senior Policy Advisor, International Department, Norwegian Red Cross, describes her experiences attending the course in autumn 2013.
You have a lot of senior-level experience within the Norwegian Red Cross. Why did you decide to apply for this course; what new skills were you looking for?
I have been working for many years in the Norwegian Red Cross with international work, mainly on the operational side of humanitarian and development assistance from Oslo and as a delegate in the field. I am now working as a Policy Advisor in the same organization, and I thought it would be useful to refresh my knowledge and gain new knowledge on key documents and policy in humanitarian work. I also needed better skills in communicating these principles and core values in the humanitarian diplomacy work I do.
Did the course teach you practical skills which you were able to use in your professional or personal environment?
Yes, the course was practical in the sense that there was focus on tools and skills in the performance of humanitarian diplomacy. The weekly assignments helped in emphasizing the importance of staying focused and limiting the messages, and it was useful to discuss different humanitarian diplomacy methodologies for specific situations with other students. An example of a humanitarian challenge that was often discussed during the course was humanitarian diplomacy concerning irregular migrants.
Can you describe the course learning methodology?
I really liked the course methodology which was very interactive with both fellow students and lecturers. This meant that we all had a real dialogue and discussion on the different topics in a very efficient way. We were also able to share other relevant information. Since students were sitting in different parts of the world, many different examples and angles were brought up.
How easy was it to combine learning with working and other responsibilities?
The online learning was convenient, but the whole course required more time than I anticipated. Since there was a regular, weekly schedule it was a challenge at certain busy times or when travelling, but it was possible.
What was the most valuable or useful aspect of this course for you?
One valuable aspect was the fact that this is a course open to all, also outside the Red Cross. This gave an interesting and useful additional knowledge and insight from other students and lecturers.