Program for Humanitarian Engineering & Refugee Studies

The Program in Interdisciplinary Humanitarian Engineering and Refugee Studies (pHERS) provides students with the skills to conduct research in crisis contexts and design humanitarian solutions. We aim to train and inspire the next generation of scholars, global health engineers, public health professionals, and humanitarian workers focused on generating sustainable, impactful interventions in the global refugee crisis.

Our Goals are to…

  • Educate the next generation of humanitarian innovators in learning how to assess problems, develop solutions, and work with a diverse team of stakeholders in unstable environments.
  • Expand the knowledge and tools available to support humanitarian interventions that build on local & international collaborations in Lebanon and Uganda.
  • Enhance refugee participation in generating sustainable solutions for their wellbeing and welfare.
  • Engage students across borders – disciplinary, personal, and national borders – through problem-focused, peer-to-peer learning.

About pHERS:

pHERS is an exciting new interdisciplinary program at Boston University. While students do not receive course credit from BU, the experience they gain is invaluable. The program offers a unique opportunity for students to travel to either Lebanon or Uganda and participate in a multidisciplinary course taught by experts from multiple universities; previous lecturers have hailed from Boston University, American University of Beirut, and Johns Hopkins University. Students work on a team of multidisciplinary, internationally diverse students to design a solution to a challenge facing refugees. Past students emphasized how this program taught them things they could never learn in a classroom. Field visits, the multidisciplinary lectures, and team project challenge students and allow them to grow as global thinkers and problem solvers.

The pHERS sessions run for 3 weeks during either the winter term break or the summer term. The course includes lectures, field visits, and prototyping sessions. The program culminates in a pitch session, in which teams present their prototypes to a panel of judges. The program is hosted by American University of Beirut and Makerere University. During the session students are housed at the university in dormitory style housing.

The program is open to students of any major.