JHU Berman Institute for Bioethics Exploration of Practical Ethics Research Grant
The Ethics of Preparedness in Humanitarian Disasters
Sarah E. Parkinson, Aronson Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Meaghan Charlton, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Narrative: What are the “everyday” ethical issues that affect war-adjacent professionals such as humanitarians, journalists, and scholars on the ground? How do individuals in these fields resolve them? We examine: 1.) The training that professionals such as researchers, journalists, and humanitarians working adjacent to war receive; 2.) How these individuals’ understandings of professional conduct interact with local populations’ concepts of ethical and moral behavior; and 3) How professionals’ protocols and practices subsequently evolve—or do not—in the field. Focusing on the humanitarian crises that conflicts in Syria and Iraq have produced, this project uses multi-sited, immersive fieldwork with foreign and local professionals in Iraqi Kurdistan and Lesvos, Greece to identify communities of practice, indigenous innovations, and emergent ethical tensions. Subsequent workshops in each field site bring together scholars, practitioners, and community representatives, to identify key ethical issues and discuss potential cross-field policy interventions.