HSPH-UNICEF Child Protection Curriculum

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UNICEF and the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center at Harvard University are partnering together to develop one of the first interdisciplinary graduate programs in child protection, which will be launched as a sub-concentration in the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Master’s track. The curriculum aims to expand the cadre of qualified child protection policymakers and field workers, to enhance the capacity of current and future child protection professionals, and to further promote the professionalization of the child protection sector.

This collaboration will produce a robust set of courses on normative, historical, policy, and operational issues relating to populations in settings of emergency, non-emergency, and post-crisis. The curriculum is designed for professionals from around the world whose daily responsibilities require an understanding of these issues. Those who complete a specified number of credits from the curriculum will graduate from the HSPH Master’s program with a certificate in Child Protection.

The curriculum will reflect current research grounded in field-based realities, taking into account the expertise of UNICEF and external child protection experts, and will 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 stronger evidence base in the sector by engaging in more rigorous research, monitoring, evaluation, and use of data. This unique program will also further the professionalization of child protection as a sector, giving it greater priority on the global policy and development agendas, and raising the profile of the sector overall.

2014-2015 Core Courses

Fall 2, 2014: GHP 553, Human Rights Dilemmas in Child Protection. Professor Bhabha, Kresge 502, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-12:30

The perspective of this course is twofold. One focus is on the genesis and impact of child protection concerns. The other is on the human rights strategies and considerations relevant to those (at both the individual and societal level) charged with preventing and responding to rights violations affecting children and fulfilling public child protection obligations. 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. Analytic points will be derived from an investigation of specific problems, the legal frameworks relating to them, and the solutions that have been advanced to address them. This will serve as an introductory course that lays out basic terminology, definitions, and human rights instruments.

Spring 1, 2015: ID 205, Societal Response to Disaster and War. Professors Leaning and Cranmer, FXB G13, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00-6:00

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.

Spring 1, 2015: SBS 246, Issues in Maternal and Child Health Programs and Policies. Professor McCormick, FXB G11, Mondays and Wednesdays, 8:30-10:20

The legal and normative human rights framework for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) work will form the foundation for this course, where students will explore the conditions and obstacles in 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 in ways that bring about informed decision-making by children. Through examining the impact of cultures, religions, and traditions on SRH practices, including child marriage and genital mutilation/cutting, 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.

 Spring 2, 2015: GHP 508,  Child Protection in Theory and Practice. Professor Bhabha, Kresge 203, Fridays, 1:30-4:20 (New)

The child protection sector now consists of a multitude of organizations that have an ever-increasing need to coordinate. The number of development and humanitarian child protection actors now spans United Nations agencies, human rights bodies, local, national, and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), national and local governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), bilateral governmental development and humanitarian agencies, small civil society organizations (CSOs), international financial institutions (IFIs), other multilateral institutions, advocacy groups, private foundations, and the private sector. The early parts of this course will focus on understanding the background, structure, roles and mandates of each type of organization. Later, students will have opportunities to engage with practicing professionals and their in-class colleagues in order to conceptualize and design new programs and policies. Students will work with and across departments, sectors and geographic regions on a range of contemporary global issues relevant to child protection. The art of communicating across and within organizations for the development and advancement of innovative, evidence-based programs and policies will be the capstone experience of the course.

Spring 2, 2015: GHP 511,  International Perspectives on Justice for Children. Professor Aptel, Kresge 203, Thursdays, 3:30-6:30  (New)

This course seeks to help students resolve some of the crucial challenges that arise when children interact with the legal system as victims, witnesses, or alleged offenders. By studying the many country-specific, formal and informal justice systems that exist to protect, punish, and rehabilitate children, the course will also examine a number of thematic concepts related to child discrimination, especially on the bases of 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 merge these sciences with legal precepts and human rights to advance actions that are in a child’s best interest. By exploring case law pertaining to decision-making within and outside the formal justice system, this course will lay a foundation for further study in the discipline, and also bolster the repertoire of professionals using the law in advocacy work.

Frequently Asked Questions

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