Participants in the Canadian Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training ProgramThe Department of Family Medicine is involved in several global health courses:


  • The Inter-Professional Global Health Course (IPGHC) is an optional introduction to global health issues offered every year, from January to March, to health professional students in Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, Social Work, Communication Sciences and Disorders. It consists of 10 weekly 2-hour sessions that include seminars and small group activities.

  • The Pre-Departure Workshop (PDWS) is a 4-hour training session offered to medical students twice a year in the Fall and Winter semesters. It is a mandatory requirement for those students doing clinical rotations outside of North America. It can be made available to residents, pending availability of spots. 
  • The humanitarian sector is a multi-billion dollar industry and the number of people who are employed in international humanitarian care is growing at 6% per year. However, until recently, humanitarian assistance has been provided in an ad hoc manner with little coordination, accountability, or quality standards of care in service delivery. Humanitarian providers come from a variety of backgrounds and while they may bring specific skill sets like project management, logistics, security management, medicine and nursing, to name a few, they often lack the skills, tools and the knowledge-base specifically required to work effectively in complex humanitarian settings and to adjust and adapt their professional skills to resource poor settings and increasing security threats. The demand for better coordination, accountability, and training has thus led to a need for standardized humanitarian training programs for providers.

    The Humanitarian Studies Initiative (HSI) based in Montreal, Quebec is a multi-disciplinary program affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University. Training programs for HSI are delivered through Humanitarian U, a professional humanitarian training organization led by McGill Family Medicine's Dr. Kirsten Johnson (MD MPH), and are dedicated to providing competency-based, expert designed and performance measured programs. Humanitarian U's training modules include various self paced online programs, as well as annual face to face training sessions and intensive simulation based exercises. With online training solutions, students are able to access HSI content on the go, whether here in Montreal or abroad, at any time of the day. Students receive hours of online content, with every detail developed over the last 10 years by an international team of experts, focused on preparing students for deployment. At the end of a module, students receive an in-depth report, identifying strengths, weaknesses and next steps. 

    The HumanitarianU team holds active partnerships with renowned academic and professional humanitarian experts, who draw upon experience in countless international organizations and institutions. Some of our key academic partners include the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Massachusetts General Hospital Global Disaster Response, Tufts University and right here at home throughout McGill University. 

    Together, we are dedicated to finding innovative and collaborative solutions to the most pressing challenges of humanitarian work, and to providing the next generation of humanitarians with the most effective and accessible training. 

    TO SIGN UP FOR HSI PROGRAMS, or questions regarding curriculum, partnerships, costs, and the Humanitarian U advantage, please go to"


Who can attend?

Course Students Residents Faculty
PDWS X X (pending availability) X