UVA Humanitarian Collaborative

We’re bridging the scholar-practitioner gap in Humanitarian Aid. With generous funding from the Ruth Young/Indar-Riyukhe Fund and the UVA Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, we’re conducting interdisciplinary research at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. We’re a team of faculty, staff and students collaborating with international and local community partners to solve some of the most pressing problems in the field of Humanitarian Aid. Each year we choose a theme where we can use our collective perspectives and skills to try and make a difference. Currently we’re focusing on Aid, Art, & Advocacy. Our guiding question - “How might we more effectively use visual imagery and advocacy to drive global compassion and action in the field of Humanitarian Aid?”

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Current Theme: Aid, Art, & Advocacy

How might we more effectively use visual imagery and advocacy to drive global compassion and action in the field of Humanitarian Aid?

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Ongoing Research Projects

Literature and ethics

Is literature and prolonged engagement a better way to engage with stories from the humanitarian aid field over the long-term?

Virtual reality and empathy

One consequence of humanitarian crises is large scale displacement of a country’s population. Organizations are utilizing the technology of virtual reality to increase public awareness and understanding surrounding these issues of displacement. “Virtual Reality and Humanitarian Aid: Increasing Empathy or False Understanding?” seeks to investigate the effectiveness of VR based interventions to inform future campaigns.

(W)Here to Stay?!

If you were forced to leave your home, where would you go, what would you do? How would you find a place to stay?  How would you know if here is a place you can stay permanently? What would contribute to your sense of belonging? (W)HERE TO STAY?! is a series of events and exhibitions designed to generate conversation, reflection and creative expression responding to issues of displacement and belonging as they pertain to the city of Charlottesville. 


“Issue h” - Social media Take Over and humanitarian aid

Can we find original ways of using imagery on social media to spark engagement in humanitarian advocacy? What different perspectives do different stakeholders (students, community groups, international organizations) have in what ‘images’ they think are effective in raising awareness?

“Compassion” v. “Empathy”

How are the differences between compassion and empathy realized in humanitarian advocacy?

Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow”

What impact can contemporary art and films have in creating a dialogue around the global migrant crisis?

“A Venezuelan Journey: A Search for a New Home” exhibition

How can physical exhibitions connect (physically) distant issues to the city of Charlottesville?

“Emergency,” “crisis,” or “disaster?”

How does the choice of semantics and labelling affect humanitarian response?

Our Partners

Get Involved

Want to learn more on the 2018-2019 Theme?

View our Additional Resources to see articles and videos on other organizations doing work that we admire in the field of Aid, Art & Advocacy.

want to join the collaborative?

We believe that everyone has a valuable perspective to share and collaboration is the key to new solutions. If you think you could be a valuable member and work with us, then we would love to hear about it.