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Humanitarianism in action

Humanitarianism in action

Humanity is one of the Fundamental Principles underpinning the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The activities in this resource consider how humanitarianism can be put into action, by placing learners in the position of decision makers, enabling them to explore the choices surrounding helping people in need.

The activities go on to investigate the factors that might limit or support the choice of individuals to act as humanitarians. Role-play, real-life examples and opportunities for self-reflection are all used to develop the learning and deepen learners’ engagement with the concept of humanitarianism.

Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • Explore the term humanity.
  • Consider dilemmas and consequences when faced with situations where a humanitarian response is possible.
  • Explore social pressures and barriers to action around helping others.
  • Reflect on what motivates people to act to help others.

Suggested age range: 14–19

Curriculum links: Citizenship 

This resource covers some content that is sensitive and could be upsetting for some learners; therefore consideration needs to be given to the age and ability of the group.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and does not express a British Red Cross opinion© Info

Resource overview

  1. Starter: A humanitarian vision

    Introduce the concept of humanity, discussing how learners might apply the principle of humanitarianism to their own lives; linking to the Red Cross Movements definition of humanity.

  2. Raising awareness: Everyday humanitarian dilemmas

    Deepen engagement with the idea of humanity through a critical thinking, small group activity where learners explore a fictional dilemma from a range of perspectives and make decisions around helping those in need. Learners can role play the characters to bring ideas to life.

  3. Real life scenarios: Humanitarian action in Syria

    In small groups learners explore case studies based on the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Syria, including some personal stories of those affected by or working as aid workers in the conflict. Discussion based activities support learning and group work.

  4. Thinking it through: Exploring personal motivations

    A reflective, practical activity using the ‘humanitarian motivations’ cards, learners consider what might motivate them to act in a humanitarian way and share their thoughts.

  5. Closing reflections: Sharing thoughts on humanitarianism

    Close with learners sharing a humanitarian reflection from their learning.


These resources were written by Rob Bowden and Rosie Wilson of Lifeworlds Learning and published in October 2015.