Meeting the needs of crisis-affected people - research grant for Thea Hilhorst

Professor Thea Hilhorst

On 19 March 2020, Thea Hilhorst, Professor in Humanitarian Studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, was awarded the prestigious Advanced Grant for research by the European Research Council (ERC).

The ERC has awarded her a grant of 2.5 million Euro for a 5-year research project into how humanitarian governance is evolving, how civil society actors and crisis-affected people shape humanitarian governance, and how humanitarian studies can become more participatory and respectful of local research capacities.

Entitled 'Humanitarian governance: accountability, advocacy, alternatives', this research will focus on the needs of crisis-affected people, including more than 135 million refugees worldwide. It aims to understand what patterns of governance emerge in different types of crises and in different contexts of state–society relations, government traditions, and styles of statehood.

Groundbreaking research that 'focuses on how crisis-affected populations and civil society actors are positioning themselves in this new humanitarian landscape'

The study focuses on Colombia, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as case studies.

In addition, it will study the international policies of climate-related displacement to understand how humanitarian governance is challenged through accountability and advocacy practices. The evaluation committee states that the research is unique as it proposes methodologies 'to de-colonize humanitarian research and to develop a bottom-up perspective that has been largely missing to date.'

ISS-based research

Thea Hilhorst will implement the ERC project at ISS in collaboration with a group of scientists working on conflict and peace studies. Three PhDs and a senior researcher will be recruited for the project. According to the evaluation committee, 'the programme should produce a cohort of doctoral students with transformative power'.

Press releases

About Thea Hilhorst

Thea Hilhorst holds the Chair of Humanitarian Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam at ISS. She leads the research project 'When disaster meets conflict’, that studies disaster governance in high-conflict, low-conflict and post-conflict societies, financed by the Dutch Research Council (VICI programme). She is an expert in development in areas affected by disaster, conflict or fragility, with a special focus on aid-society relations, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka.

Professor Thea Hilhorst participates in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Research Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) in which scholars share a focus on the governance of migration and diversity.

Acknowledgement and funding

  • This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 884139.

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  • The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialization.

    To date, the ERC has funded some 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies, in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and other countries, have concluded special agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams.

    The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC President is Professor Mauro Ferrari. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel is responsible.

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