David Morgan

Scholars
2013
Mentor(s): 
Study program:
PhD political science
Current affiliation:
Dalhousie University
Localisation:

David Morgan seeks to explore the changing landscape of humanitarian aid, and the ways in which aid agencies can better adapt to an evolving global context.

The work of David Morgan, 2013 Trudeau scholar at Dalhousie University, spans a wide range of interests, including humanitarian action, international development, and resilience. His doctoral research explores the changing landscape of humanitarian aid, particularly in the context of increasingly protracted armed conflicts, multiplying environmental disasters, and new risks posed by climate change, rapid urbanization, and international migration. He hopes to better understand the ways in which aid agencies have made sense of and attempted to address these challenges, as well as the internal barriers to reform that may be inhibiting more proactive or transformational approaches. Beginning in the fall of 2015, his research will be carried out in Geneva, New York, and Amman, Jordan. David is also actively involved with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, the Humanitarian Coalition, and the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network.

Doctoral research

The Humanitarians: Understanding the Crisis of Humanitarian Action

Faced with increasingly protracted armed conflicts, multiplying environmental disasters, and new risks posed by climate change, rapid urbanization, and international migration, many observers believe that the international humanitarian system is fast approaching its “breaking point”. Conventional explanations of the limits of humanitarian reform, however, provide little grounds for optimism in the face of such crises. Some have concluded that the enterprise appears “condemned to repeat”, pointing to the various material constraints facing aid organizations or implicating humanitarians themselves in structures of power and governance. This dissertation project, by contrast, explores the less visible constraints to change, including the entrenched beliefs and assumptions that may be inhibiting more proactive or transformational approaches to reform. By bringing insight into the discourses underlying the policy and practice of external aid, it highlights the need to evaluate existing identities, roles, and relationships across the humanitarian community. In doing so, it assesses the scope for change and the extent to which the international humanitarian system may be able to make space for new actors, traditions, and approaches.

David Morgan’s passion for community outreach, resilience, and positive adaptation first arose during his undergraduate work at Dalhousie University. While participating in a two-month field study tour in East Africa in 2008, David was struck by communities’ remarkable capacity to cope with adversity, even in the face of drought or genocide. His ensuing field placement with a local organization in Uganda cemented this newfound appreciation, as he witnessed first-hand the strength inherent within communities residing in the most challenging of contexts.

 

Upon his return to Canada, David mobilized these inspiring experiences into personal research and career objectives. Funded by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, his master’s thesis at the University of British Columbia examined peacebuilding initiatives in post-conflict environments, focusing on demobilization and reintegration processes in northern Uganda. Upon the completion of his degree in 2011, David became involved in the launch of the Networks of Centres of Excellence’s Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network, where he worked to identify best practices in research and practice and to break down disciplinary silos in order to scale up more effective resilience programming for children and youth exposed to violence and trauma. David’s work with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative further expanded on many of these themes, as David joined a number of research and training initiatives addressing the issues of child recruitment and civilian protection in conflict areas.

David returned to Dalhousie University in September 2012 to pursue his doctoral degree in political science. At Dalhousie, his research has explored the changing landscape of humanitarian assistance, and the ways in which aid agencies have engaged with questions of crisis and reform. David remains involved with the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, where his work as a research assistant continues to explore issues of resilience and positive adaptation among the most vulnerable populations in Canada and abroad. David is also a doctoral fellow with Dalhousie’s Centre for Foreign Policy Studies and a research associate with the Humanitarian Coalition, an Ottawa-based group that seeks to coordinate the activities of humanitarian organizations in Canada.

  • June 16, 2015
    Once again, the Trudeau Foundation community was thoroughly involved at Congress 2015, Canada’s largest gathering for scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities.