accessibility & help

What is humanitarianism?

The Red Cross is a humanitarian organisation, but what does that mean?

The activities in this resource have been designed to help learners unpack the concept of humanitarianism, beginning with what it means to be human and building on this in sequential stages.

The idea of human dignity is introduced as a particularly important aspect of humanitarianism and the resource concludes by looking at what it means to be a humanitarian.


Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • Consider what makes us human
  • Explore the concept of humanitarianism and what it means (to them and others)
  • Explore the idea of human dignity
  • Explain what it means to be a humanitarian.

Suggested age range: 11–14

Curriculum links: PSHE 


Resource overview

1. Starter activity: what makes us human?

Encourage learners to begin their exploration of humanitarianism starting with the question ‘what makes us human?’

2. Humanitarianism is…

A group activity provides learners with the opportunity to describe and define what humanitarianism means to them.

3. Unpacking humanitarianism

Learners develop their ideas about humanitarianism by engaging with different perspectives and discussing a short video about humanity.

4. Human dignity

Explore the concept of human dignity, and how dignity can be respected and preserved through humanitarian action.

5. Being a humanitarian

Discover the values and skills that might be needed to be a humanitarian.

6. I am humanitarian

Finish with a moving video about humanity. Learners identify simple acts they could take to be humanitarian.



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


Sign up now

Enter your email address and start receiving newsthink, our free topical teaching resource.

Related resources

Activities help young learners build an understanding of humanity.