Mission & Vision
Forced migration is a defining issue of our time. In 2023, 117.2 million people were displaced from their homes, and the traditional refugee-camp model cannot meet evolving needs. Currently, one out of every 97 people is seeking asylum, internally displaced or a refugee - a level of global risk for which there is no known precedent. Conflict, climate change, drought, and other natural disasters have resulted in the highest levels of displacement ever recorded.
As one of the first interdisciplinary, practice-based humanitarian research and educational programs offered by a major university, the Program on Forced Migration and Health (PFMH) at the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health was launched in 1998. Today PFMH continues to be a leader in developing evidence-based approaches to humanitarian response and in training the next generation of global leaders. We do this through leading key policy reforms such as co-authoring the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies; serving on the Steering Committee of the Interagency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises ( IAWG); leading WHO's Ebola response in Sierra Leone; co-chairing the Assessment, Measurement and Evidence Taskforce of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action; and co-authoring the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (MSCP).
Located in New York City, we are connected to extensive humanitarian, human rights, and health networks locally and around the world. Faculty, staff, and students have direct
access to and support United Nations agencies, international NGOs, and a diverse array of local and global organizations. Now as one of the world's leading centers on humanitarian
teaching and research, PFMH has built and expanded a range of programs to meet continuing challenges and to promote the understanding of forced migration and health as a key policy issue of the 21st century.
Our Graduate Students
Graduate students in the Program on Forced Migration and Health work towards a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree through Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health with a required Certificate in Public Health and Humanitarian Action (PHHA). This two-year course of study offers 12 courses designed specifically for humanitarian workers, taught by experts who have spent years in the field responding to emergencies. In designing courses, our faculty draw on their past and current experiences working on programs throughout the world. Students also complete a 2-month skills-based practicum in a humanitarian setting.
Our students are prepared to work effectively in acute and complex emergencies as well as resource poor countries and post-conflict settings. Taking a pragmatic, interdisciplinary, and human rights-based approach, the program equips graduates with the skills necessary to gather, analyze, and disseminate knowledge needed to implement health-related programs and systems in humanitarian settings. Our 400+ graduates have worked with dozens of organizations in over 70 countries.