Humanitarianism and Conflict in the Modern World


Henri Dunant’s shock at witnessing the carnage of the battlefield of Solferino in 1859 resulted in the formation of the Red Cross. Since then humanitarian campaigners and organisations have played a vital role in seeking to alleviate the destructive consequences of modern conflict.

This hybrid day school will introduce the main historical themes related to this important subject, and look in detail at the part played by some of the principal humanitarian non-governmental organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children and, in the sphere of human rights, Amnesty International.

The focus will be on the conflicts of the twentieth century – the two world wars, the Cold War and the conflicts associated with decolonisation in the 1950s.

Programme details

Registration (in-person attendees only)

Humanitarianism and the Wars of Decolonisation
Prof Andrew Thompson

Tea/coffee break

Competition and collaboration: the British Red Cross and Oxfam's international relief work in the 1960s
Dr Rosemary Cresswell

Lunch break

Saving the Children, humanitarianism, internationalism and the British empire
Dr Emily Baughan

Tea/coffee break

Amnesty International and the Cold War
Prof Tom Buchanan

Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £85.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £75.00
Baguette £6.10
Hot lunch (3 courses) £16.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Emily Baughan


Emily Baughan is a Senior Lecturer in 19th/20th Century British History at The University of Sheffield. Her research places the history of modern Britain within wider international and imperial contexts. Her first book, Saving the Children: Humanitarianism, Internationalism and the British Empire, 1915-1970 (2020) tells the story of the rise of international humanitarianism through the work of the NGO, Save the Children. Emily is also the reviews editor for the journal Twentieth Century British History.

Prof Tom Buchanan

Director of Studies and Speaker

Tom Buchanan is Professor of Modern British and European History at the University of Oxford, and Director of Studies in History and Politics at OUDCE. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on British involvement in the Spanish Civil War, and of Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present (2nd edition 2012). He published East Wind: China and the British Left, 1925-1976 with Oxford University Press in 2012. His most recent book is Amnesty International and Human Rights Activism in Post-war Britain. He has published an article entitled “The Three Lives of Homage to Catalonia” in The Library, 3, 3 (2002).

Dr Rosemary Cresswell


Rosemary Cresswell is a historian of health, humanitarianism, charity and voluntarism from 1850-2020. She is currently writing the History of the British Red Cross, 1870-2020: Health and Humanitarianism, to be published by Bloomsbury. Rosemary has also published further research related to infectious disease, first aid, the Red Cross, and on the history of nursing.

Prof Andrew Thompson


Andrew Thompson is a Professor of Global and Imperial History and a Professional fellow at Nuffield College. He is also the co-chair of the Global and Imperial History Centre. He is currently researching international humanitarianism and human rights and the emergence of the modern aid and development sector. This work forms the subject of his forthcoming book, Humanitarianism on Trial: How global systems of aid and development emerged through the end of empire (Oxford University Press).


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.