Enhancing Graduate Educational Capacities for Human Security

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  • The Enhancing Graduate Educational Capacities for Human Security (EGECHS) Programme addresses the activities of UNU-EHS aimed at enhancing the educational capabilities of its partner institutions in developing and transitional countries. Led by the principle that sustainable development can only be secured from within, strengthening of higher education institutions became a core task of UNU-EHS. Topically, educational capacity development focuses on disaster management, environmental migration, environmental impacts, and security considerations, as well as sustainable resource use. The flagship activity of the programme will be the joint master’s programme with the University of Bonn, entitled “The Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security”, which is expected to launch in 2012.


    The programme does not have its own twinning projects per se. However, it is highly relevant for twinning in certain respects. First, all curricula developed in the programme — e.g., the joint master’s course — should be designed in such a way that it, with appropriate adaptation, can be utilized by twin institutes in the southern hemisphere, making the course a potentially important support for the twinning initiative. Second, the online learning platforms developed and utilized by the programme should be easy to use for new institutes, not only for existing courses, but also their own new programmes.

    Focal Points

    The programme will be managed and coordinated by an academic officer (head of the section, to be recruited) and assisted by one programme associate.


    The purpose is to strengthen the institutional capacities of academic institutions worldwide in the delivery of relevant academic programmes and the research and teaching capacity of young scientists and working academics in the field of disaster risk management (DRM) in developing and transitional countries through graduate education and research training as well as demand-driven user-focused research projects with university partners and advanced research institutes in the region.


    The programme will establish and/or enhance joint graduate degree programmes on DRM with university partners in developing and transitional countries to increase the performance of young researchers. It will create a modular curriculum on DRM strengthening interested universities’ teaching capacity and continue to conduct integrative and interdisciplinary research on root causes, factors and processes contributing to the generation and/or increase of human insecurities and risk management practices as well as promoting the use of innovative technologies to help improve the work of DRM researchers and professionals.


    The programme seeks to achieve gender balance in its joint degree programmes and research projects.

    Target Audience

    The intended beneficiaries are graduate students and (young) scientists at research institutes. The main users are teaching faculty members at universities as well as professionals and decision makers at DRM institutions and various levels of governance. As the programme aims at institutional development of universities in developing countries those can be identified as the primary addressees.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Rethink/revisit existing theories/policies
    Target: All educational activities developed within the programme should be aligned with and be made fruitful for the twinning concept.
    How: The optimal way of offering courses at different universities/regions as well as the optimal way of utilizing the entire knowledge of UNU in a coordinated way needs innovative approaches with respect to internal UNU organization as well as to (electronic) platforms. Both have yet to be developed.

    Impact: Curriculum development
    Target: The target is to have two kinds of curriculum development: (1) curriculum development for UNU-EHS courses and (2) modular curriculum development that will be freely available for any institution in higher education.
    How: Curriculum development will be based on the latest research and scientific knowledge in the field of risk and vulnerability, in cooperation with external research and educational institutions — for example, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to mention but two. We will aim at maximizing the use of distance learning technology and developing reusable modules.

    Impact: Teaching
    Target: UNU-EHS will not only develop teaching material but will participate in its delivery, both within its own graduate programmes and helping to test it under different conditions in joint programmes with partner universities.
    How: Participation as resource persons in short courses and academic programmes are foreseen.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: The target is to make a substantial contribution to introduce interdisciplinary policy-oriented educational programmes in developed/developing countries in disaster management, risk and vulnerability assessment, environmental security and sustainable resource use.
    How: The targets will be achieved with long-term institutional partnerships, staff exchange and visits, joint curricula development, developing and disseminating teaching material for both face-to-face and distance education.

    Impact: Supporting academic communities
    Target: The programme focuses on Africa and Central and Eastern Europe and envisages contributions in Latin America. It aims to support academic communities in developing countries to help achieve adequate research and teaching capacity.
    How: This will be achieved through long-term partnerships with institutions of tertiary education in the target regions including the cooperation with the University of the Free State and the University of Bonn. Within the framework of the Africa Roadmap and twinning projects, the range of partners will further develop.

    Research Findings

    Not directly applicable. The educational activities developed by this programme draw the relevant materials form various the other UNU-EHS and other (UNU) programmes.

    Value Added

    The programme adds value to the UN/UNU systems in terms of the numbers of well-trained graduates as well as documented teaching curricula and published research studies to be utilized by teaching faculty, policymakers and other target audiences worldwide. It will facilitate workshops and stakeholder meetings to share and discuss its research results and to review its joint degree programmes.

    The value added of educational programmes of UNU, as compared to normal universities, is the multiplier potential coming with the institutional background of UN and, particularly, the twinning structure.


    The programme will explore and utilize new and innovative techniques to capture, process and disseminate its research knowledge as well as curricular materials. It will also extend the use of distance learning to reach a broader audience. Institutional developments will be reported through multiple media, press releases and websites. Institutional developments will be reported through multiple media, press releases and websites.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    In year one, the focus was on conceptualizing curricular elements, continuing existing teaching partnerships and formalizing research questions and identifying study locations jointly with national partners. Moreover, a series of formal issues had, and still have, to be elaborated within UNU and with partners, mainly the University of Bonn. In 2012 the joint master’s course will begin. Further on, besides the development of the course itself, emphasis will be given to making course material appropriately available to other university partners, particularly with UNU’s twinning efforts.


    Regular evaluations, together with partners and participants in the educational programmes, will be conducted. Specific indicators will be quality education and research, gender and internationality of participants.


    The programme assumes that sufficient funding can be secured especially to maintain graduate degree programmes on a long-term basis. The incorporation of the modular curriculum depends on the willingness and support of universities to adjust their existing curricula. The research and joint degree programme partners are expected to accomplish their part of the agreements.

    Expected Duration

    Program Start: 1 January 2010 Program Duration: ongoing

  • Activities within the Programme will involve cooperation between the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security and three partners:

    • UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe
    • International Institute for Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
    • United Nations Human Settlements Programme
  • Title: From Vulnerability to Resilience in Disaster Risk Management
    Author(s): UNU-EHS/University of the Free State (S-Africa)/University of Bonn
    Publication/Output Type: PhD block course
    Date Published: 2012

    Title: The Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security
    Author(s): UNU-EHS/University of Bonn
    Publication/Output Type: Joint master’s programme with the University of Bonn
    Date Published: 2012

  • Dr. Jakob Rhyner, Director
    United Nations University
    Institute for Environment and Human Security
    UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
    53113 Bonn, Germany

    T: +49 228 815-0200
    F: +49 228 815-0299