MAS in Humanitarian Leadership
The joint study program CAS/MAS in Humanitarian Leadership connects academic skills and knowledge, delivered by the University of Lucerne, with the practical know-how and experience of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Providing support to people affected by conflicts and disasters is characterised as being an intense, challenging, and multi-faceted task. Typically, providing humanitarian assistance is associated with a set of aspects including:
This variety of factors requires strong strategic, operational, and leadership skills for managerial and field personnel. Leadership skills are particularly important, since human interaction is the basis of any humanitarian response.
In view of these challenges and opportunities, the study programme "MAS in Humanitarian Leadership" develops the competencies of humanitarian leaders and managers. Furthermore, the programme helps leaders and managers design humanitarian services, which are effective and reach the people who are affected by conflicts and disasters.
Discover the study programme
MAS Module: Contents and Faculty
Trends in Work and Leadership
Organisations and people who think about the longer-term aspects of their existence and leadership have a greater impact.
This session sets the global view for the MAS Module week, looking at the meta trends in the fields of work and leadership.
The session focusses on the purpose of a leader which emerges as one of the most important drivers of work motivation. The participants will be enabled to work on defining their personal leadership purpose.
Ethical Leadership in Digital Transformation
Data-based systems are now blurring the traditional lines between our physical, virtual and even biological worlds.
The sheer scale, scope, and complexity of transformational advances in digital technologies (especially both emerging and disruptive digital technologies) and their impact in the world of work means that leaders must, at a pace like never before, think of very different strategies, mindsets, and cultural shifts in the way they work. Humanitarian leaders need an even stronger basis of values, ethics, and principles to work, partner, and collaborate.
This session focuses on expanding leaders’ ability to lead ethically in a way that holds the space for the multitude of aspects, and which impact in the humanitarian context in relation to the constant emerging digital transformation. Their present and future ability to lead will require an agility to identify and navigate the emerging ethical opportunities and ethical challenges of digital transformation.
Creating a Future Proof Brain
The new world of work requires a new leadership style, mindset, and brain.
In this session, we will explore the current development of work environments and learn about the latest neuroscientific research to navigate successfully through these developments and initiate changes. Furthermore, this module allows participants to reflect on their leadership behavior in their work environment and to apply the newly gained insights to their leadership role.
Futures and Foresight
The future is not here now, so how can we engage with it?
Humanity has been experiencing a remarkable acceleration in the rate of change in a wide range of fields, from science and technology to financial and organisational dynamics to culture and the very essence of what it will mean to be human in the 21st century.
This session will focus on recent developments to help humanitarian practitioners to work effectively with others in anticipating possible future conditions. To engage with the unknown, participants shall explore options for understanding and addressing emerging risks and opportunities and activities that nurture creativity, candour, and genuine collaboration.
Leadership and Humanity
To talk about 'humanity', we have to be able to talk about violence.
The session provides a science-based approach to the impact of violence and how this approach benefits humanitarian action. Find more details about this compelling theory in our Research & Publications section. This approach allows an objective and common dialogue about the complex human phenomenon of violence and so leads to more targeted policies for security issues, preventive measures, diplomacy, education, and the application of national and international laws. In other words, talking in a consistent way about violence will lead to a consistent approach to humanitarian action.
Driving Decision Making in Complex Times
Complexity, gut feeling and experience limit analytical decision making and may even lead to mistakes.
This session focuses on leading team decision making processes during complex and uncertain times. The participants will be introduced to a structured decision-making approach, which follows the Lucerne leadership model, and which participants can apply to their work environments.
The Lucerne leadership model is based on distinct leadership processes, which offer guidance to team members and which allow to remain agile and target-oriented, even in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments ("VUCA").
Leading Hybrid Teams
How do we build and lead hybrid and virtual teams over time to have real impact?
This session focuses on building skills that allow a leader to build high performing virtual teams that have impact — both in terms of task and team spirit. It highlights the best practices for leading a virtual team and how to achieve an equal (if not higher) level of engagement and effectiveness when working in a virtual environment. It also focuses on how a leader develops strategies for maintaining and adjusting direction in times of ambiguity.
Diversity and Inclusion
How does the immediate future affect different aspects of diversity and inclusion on different levels (individuals, teams, and systems)?
This session thematises how good leaders create an inclusive social environment that leverages the best of people and performance. In creating such an atmosphere, aspects of power, privilege, and identity will be explored.
Based on this, it builds an understanding of the links between diversity and inclusion, the evolution of humanitarian work, and the impact of external social shifts, so that leaders can create operational strategies to form a more diverse and inclusive environment.
Leading into Action
How can leaders take effective decisions in complex situations?
This session aims to help participants enhance their capability to make effective decisions and lead others into taking action. It integrates all the aspects of the MAS Module week and proposes a framework to help navigate the process of taking decisions in a complex environment.
The admission for this study programme is restricted to persons working for the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), or national Red Cross / Red Crescent Societies.
For the MAS module, the following additional entry requirements exist :
- Succesful completion of the following CAS courses:
- - "CAS in Leading by Example"
- - "CAS in Leading High-Performing Multidisciplinary Teams"
- - "CAS in Leading Complex Operations and Transformations”
- A higher education degree (University, University of Applied Sciences, Pedagogical Institute). An application without degree is possible on request.
The study programme is implemented jointly by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the University of Lucerne. The following three Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) courses are offered:
- CAS in Leading by Example
- CAS in Leading High-Performing Multidisciplinary Teams
- CAS in Leading Complex Operations and Transformations
After having completed successfully all three CAS courses, interested audience may apply for a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Humanitarian Leadership. The MAS consists of a Master module and a Master thesis and takes 1.5 years to complete.
The study programme is led by a committee of representatives of the University of Lucerne and the ICRC. Its members include:
Prof. Dr. Bruno Staffelbach
Rector and Full Professor at the University of Lucerne
Director of Operations, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Prof. Dr. Martina Caroni
Tenured Professor of International, Constitutional and Comparative Law at the University of Lucerne
Mohini Ghai Kramer
Global Head of Learning and Development, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Francesca Iseppi Steiger
Liaison at the ICRC
Head of the Humanitarian Leadership and Management School at the ICRC
Director General, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
"In our evermore complex and volatile humanitarian landscape, it is vital that we have leaders who understand recent challenges and can propose relevant and effective solutions – through collaborative, inclusive approaches that are built on mutual respect and trust. The ‘MAS in Humanitarian Leadership’ provides participants a unique opportunity to develop and strengthen their knowledge and skills, tailoring them to diverse humanitarian contexts, and ultimately helping to ensure that our humanitarian response is fit for the future."
Dr. Sabahat Jamal Gillani
MAS HL graduate and ICRC staff, Pakistan
The MAS in Humanitarian Leadership gave the butterfly the wings to fly.
“As a female leader from a developing country and a male-dominated society, the MAS in Humanitarian Leadership has honed my skills to deal with complex situations in a world filled with ambiguity. I have gained a wealth of experience through this programme, outgrown the barriers, and achieved personal growth - like a butterfly getting wings to fly.”
Claire Hoang Sperandio
Director People & Culture, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
"The increasing complexity of humanitarian work and the implications of large-scale disruptions such as climate change, cyber threats call for strong and effective leadership. The ‘MAS in Humanitarian Leadership’ is a response to this need in professional education and addresses the specificities of being a humanitarian leader. Participating in the MAS in HL equips humanitarian leaders with the knowledge and abilities how to create more effective and beneficial outcomes in a volatile world."