Harvard-UNICEF Child Protection Certificate Program

colva-girls-flickrHarvard FXB Center and UNICEF have partnered to develop one of the first interdisciplinary graduate programs in child protection. Now in its third year, the Child Protection Certificate (CPC) Program aims to expand the cadre of qualified child protection policymakers and practitioners, enhance the capacity of current and future child protection professionals, and further promote the professionalization of the child protection sector.

For the first time, in the 2016-2017 academic year, courses qualifying for the Child Protection Certificate reflect the multidisciplinary nature of this complex field. Courses are offered by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Divinity School, Kennedy School of Government, and T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Taken together, they are designed to meet the needs of professionals and students from around the world whose daily responsibilities, now or in the future, require an understanding of the multifaceted obstacles to and solutions for child protection in domestic and international settings. Students who complete the program’s four-course requirement will be awarded a Child Protection Certificate at the time of graduation.

The certificate program reflects current research and practice grounded in field-based realities, and takes into account the expertise of UNICEF, a university-wide faculty steering committee, and external child protection experts. The courses incorporate a range of disciplinary approaches to practical and theoretical aspects of child protection.

Counting the 2016-2017 academic year, nine mid-career UNICEF professionals have been awarded G. Barrie Landry fellowships to enable them to participate in the CPC Program.

Importance and Anticipated Outcomes

With more comprehensive graduate-level training, child protection professionals will be better equipped to identify relevant social, economic, legal and cultural issues affecting child protection, and to build a stronger evidence base 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 in global policy and development agendas and raising the profile of the sector overall.

2016-2017 Core Courses*


EDU H392: Childhood Trauma: Dynamics, Interventions, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Fall)
Instructor: Betsy McAlister Groves

Evolving research on the developing child and the neurobiology of trauma has dramatically changed our understanding of childhood trauma and its impact on the growing child. This research is accompanied by expanding knowledge of effective interventions. This course focuses on both areas: the nature of childhood trauma and effective interventions for children affected by trauma. The overarching perspective of the course is the consideration of the child’s traumatic experience in an ecological context.

EDU A816: Education in Armed Conflict
Instructor: Sarah Dryden Peterson

This course examines the multidimensional and multidirectional relationships between armed conflict and education. How can education contribute to the work of building “lasting peace” in settings of armed conflict globally? How does education reflect inequalities and reinforce social tensions? What role does it play in shaping individual and collective imaginings of a post-conflict future? Through critical reading of theoretical texts and case studies, engagement with guest speakers, simulations, and other learning tools, we will adopt an action-oriented approach to investigation of these and other questions.


SBS 299: Driving Science-Based Innovation in Early Childhood Practice and Policy (Fall)
Instructor: Jack Shonkoff

The primary aim of this course is to leverage advances in the biological, behavioral, and social sciences to catalyze more effective strategies to strengthen the foundations of healthy development in the early years of life. Drawing on a diversity of disciplinary perspectives, students will learn how interactions among early life experiences and genetic predispositions shape brain architecture and influence the maturation of biological systems that affect learning, behavior, and health well into the adult years.

GHP 553: Human Rights Dilemmas in Child Protection (Fall 2)
Instructor: Jacqueline Bhabha

A growing number of children and adolescents around the world are subjected to violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse. These harms persist despite the proliferation of international norms and structures designed to protect this population and promote its wellbeing. In many cases global transformations exacerbate rather than reduce the risks of abuse and increase the protection challenges these risks give rise to.

GHP 511: International Perspectives on Justice for Children (Winter Session)
Instructor: Cecile Aptel

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.

ID 205: Societal Response to Disasters and War (Spring)
Instructor: Hilarie Cranmer

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 to make in responding to emergencies, 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.

HPM 252: Negotiation (Spring 2)
Instructor: Linda Kaboolian

While the popular image of negotiations is of aggressive, even deceptive behavior, in reality negotiating is the graceful blend of analysis, strategic thinking, cultural understanding, interpersonal skills and ethical behavior. Effective negotiators plot a path to crafting the deal, influence the behavior of parties across the table and react to their moves effectively. In this course conceptual frameworks informed by a variety of disciplines including game theory, cognitive neuroscience and psychology will be joined by structured negotiation and simulation exercises.

GHP 515: International Humanitarian Response I (Spring)
Instructor: Stephanie Kayden

This course will offer a practical and in-depth analysis of the complex issues and skills needed to engage in humanitarian work in field settings. Through presentations offered by the faculty of the Humanitarian Studies Initiative and guest speakers who are experts in their topic areas, students will gain familiarity with the primary frameworks in the humanitarian field (human rights, livelihoods, Sphere standards, international humanitarian law) and will focus on practical issues that arise in the field. Course prerequisite: GHP 515 (concurrent enrollment allowed).

GHP 518: International Humanitarian Response II (Spring II)
Instructor: Stephanie Kayden

This course is a weekend-long field simulation. Students will spend two nights in the forest as part of an aid agency team during a complex disaster and conflict scenario. During this simulated humanitarian crisis, students will carry out rapid assessments, plan refugee shelter, water, sanitation, food and health programs, and manage relations with other humanitarian actors and militia groups. Each student team will produce a 10-15 page service delivery plan of response during the simulated crisis. Course prerequisite: GHP 515 (concurrent enrollment allowed).


IGA 305: Childhood, Adolescence, Youth, and International Human Rights (Fall)
Instructor: Jacqueline Bhabha

Since ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child twenty years ago, considerable progress has been made in advancing young children’s enjoyment of basic social and economic rights including access to basic education and health care. These gains are not matched by corresponding advances for older children, particularly girls, minorities, and migrants: in many developing societies, secondary and tertiary education remains widely inaccessible, maternal mortality remains the largest cause of female teenage death, and youth unemployment and violence have reached epidemic proportions.

MLD 201: Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change (Fall)
Instructor: Ronald Heifetz and Timothy O’Brien

This course applies theory to the practice of leadership within societies and organizations as they face the adaptive challenges of a changing world. It clarifies the relationship among key concepts – leadership, management, authority, power, influence, followership, citizenship – to provide a practical, coherent, and clear theoretical grasp of this area of practice. The course develops (a) diagnostic tools for analyzing the complexity of change in social systems and (b) a strategy of action that includes mobilizing engagement, generating innovation, orchestrating multi-party conflict, regulating disequilibrium, and gaining, using, and negotiating with authority.

SUP 211: Institutional & Community-Based Strategies to Support Children and Strengthen Families (Fall)
Instructor: Julie Boatright Wilson

This course examines the design and effectiveness of current governmental and community-based strategies for supporting at-risk children and strengthening their families. It begins by exploring conceptual and developmental frameworks for assessing child and family well-being and then draws on recent research on the developmental needs of children and adolescence as well as other literature and theory to identify the components of best practice for dealing with these children and families.

SUP-321M: Designing Social Security Systems (Spring 2)
Instructor: Jo Anne Barnhart

This module examines philosophical, political, economic, demographic, and structural issues that come into play in designing and implementing social security and assistance programs in developed and developing countries. From a multi-national comparative perspective, it considers the several steps from moral obligation, program financing, and payment issuance in order to identify and analyze the various factors that influence social insurance and public assistance program design and to consider the policy implications for developing successful, sustainable programs.

*Recipients of the Child Protection Certificate must complete four courses among the courses listed.