Harvard-UNICEF Child Protection Curriculum

India classroomThe Harvard FXB Center at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has partnered with UNICEF to develop one of the first interdisciplinary graduate programs in child protection. The curriculum aims to expand the cadre of qualified child protection policymakers and field workers, enhance the capacity of current and future child protection professionals, and further promote the professionalization of the child protection sector.

The curriculum comprises a robust set of courses on normative, historical, policy, and operational issues relating to populations in emergency and post-crisis contexts. It is designed for professionals from around the world whose daily responsibilities require an understanding of these issues.

Now in its second year, the curriculum reflects current research and practice grounded in field-based realities, taking into account the expertise of UNICEF and external child protection experts. The courses incorporate a range of disciplinary approaches to practical and theoretical aspects of child protection.

Importance and Anticipated Outcomes

With more comprehensive graduate-level training, child protection professionals will be better equipped to build a strong evidence base in the sector by engaging in rigorous research, monitoring, evaluation, and use of data. This program will also further the professionalization of child protection as a sector, giving it greater priority on global policy and development agendas, and raising the profile of the sector overall.

2015-2016 Core Courses*

GHP 553: Human Rights Dilemmas in Child Protection
Prof. Jacqueline Bhabha, Fall 2.

The perspective of this introductory course is twofold. One aspect will be the genesis and impact of child protection concerns. The other is on the human rights strategies and considerations (at both the individual and societal level) relevant to those charged with preventing and responding to rights violations affecting children. Integrating legal approaches with those developed in the health and social sciences, the course will begin with a brief review of the theory and literature relating to child protection and international human rights. It will proceed with an in-depth discussion of case studies covering critical areas of child protection – child labor, child trafficking, and the use of children in armed forces.

GHP 511: International Perspectives on Justice for Children

This course seeks to resolve some of the crucial challenges that arise when children interact with the legal system as victims, witnesses, or alleged offenders. By studying country-specific, formal, and informal systems for protecting, punishing, and rehabilitating children, the course will also examine thematic concepts related to discrimination, especially based on gender, disability, and sexual orientation.  Students will learn to rely on data from justice systems, clinical medicine, social science, and public health to inform the evidence base for discussions, and to merge these scientific approaches with legal precepts and human rights frameworks. Using case law within and outside the formal justice system, this course will lay a foundation for further study in the discipline and bolster the repertoire of professionals using the law in advocacy work.

ID 205, International Response to Disaster and War
Prof. Leaning, Spring 1.

This course will probe the circumstances surrounding, and consequences of, emergencies that have affected and will continue to affect the world’s children. Students will explore how child protection work is carried out, including considerations for emergency response, especially where human and material resources are scarce, and where state structures are unstable or nonresponsive. Armed conflict, natural disasters, refugee/internally-displaced-person (IDP) camps, and mass evacuations are among the scenarios that will be examined to communicate standards and best practices in crisis response. As part of the foundation for attending to the specific needs of children in crisis, the course will equip practitioners to apply human rights, international law and appropriate norms to all aspects of child protection, with special attention to children’s needs beyond survival.

SHH246: Issues in Maternal and Child Health: Programs and Policies
Spring 1.

The legal and normative human rights framework for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) work will form the foundation for this course. Students will explore conditions and obstacles for the provision of SRH information and services to children worldwide. Students will learn to address sexual violence, family planning, sexually transmitted infections, sexual minorities, and sexuality education. By examining the impact of cultures, religions, and traditions, such as child marriage and genital mutilation/cutting, on SRH practices, students will learn a rights-based approach to the design and implementation of child friendly, contextually appropriate policies and programs. The programs under study will highlight the prevention of harm through community education and dialogue as well as through formal and regulatory systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

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*Recipients of the program’s child protection certificate must have completed 3 out of the 4 courses listed.