How to master a crisis

New Master’s programme "International Organisations and Crisis Management" at the University of Jena

The euro crisis, the refugee crisis, the Crimea and Ukraine crises, and now the Covid-19 pandemic - crises and critical events have always been part of human existence. In the early modern era, the plague spread fear and panic throughout Europe. The epidemic virtually depopulated entire regions. Today, anxiety about Covid-19 has spread around the globe, while swarms of locusts are laying waste to large swathes of East Africa, threatening famine. Terrorist attacks and armed conflicts are also part of everyday violence in many parts of the world.

After the crisis is before the crisis

"After the crisis is before the crisis. The question to ask is what crises have in common and how we can confront them," says Prof. Rafael Biermann of Friedrich Schiller Univer­sity Jena in Germany. Political scientist Biermann and his colleague, Prof. Christian Kreuder-Sonnen, have designed a new Master’s programme. From the 2020/21 winter semester, students from Germany and the rest of the world are invited to study " Interna­tional Organisations and Crisis Management ". Prof. Kreuder-Sonnen explains that the programme will examine in particular the work of international governmental as well as non-governmental organisations, because crises do not respect national borders. It will focus on organisations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Health Organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. The new study programme is international and designed to be taught in English. Students from all over the world and from many different cultures will have the opportunity to come together to study crises from their various different perspectives.

"We consider the possibilities and limits of international action on crises, as well as the temptations for countries to go it alone and the necessity of international coordination," says Prof. Kreuder-Sonnen. The Master’s will also look at the crises of legitimacy that organisations themselves are caught up in if they fail to deal with a crisis and have to be reformed.

Including a compulsory semester abroad

The new study programme "International Organizations and Crisis Management" includes a compulsory semester abroad - at a university such as Birmingham, Haifa or Rhode Island, where it is also possible to study crises and organisations. There will also be seminars with practitioners and excursions to the headquarters of international organisa­tions in Europe, or internships at organisations, ministries or think tanks. A regular sum­mer school will address a variety of crisis scenarios.

With this new study programme, the Institute of Political Science of the University of Jena wishes to contribute toward recording and reflecting on experiences such as the corona­virus crisis. It also aims to train experts with a broad knowledge of crises who will work for international organisations, national administrations, media organisations, industry, and in academia.

International students can apply until 31 July, while for applications from Germany, the deadline is 15 September. If you have questions regarding the application process, you can contact the Master Service Centre at for help. Questions on the content of the new programme should be sent to the study advisor at

Office hours: Wednesdays, 2.30-4.00 pm, online via Zoom: (Code: 088633). Please register via email.

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