Following a record 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Japan’s eastern coast last year, many humanitarian organizations faced the daunting challenge of providing relief to disaster victims without the benefit of proper supply chains in the area.

Because so many humanitarian organizations lack trained logistics professionals, three professors at the Center for Health and Humanitarian Logistics at the Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up to provide a new three-course designed to train participants in disaster preparedness and response operations planning, which they say may have helped in Japan.

Although Georgia Tech already offers several course offerings on logistics and supply chain management for the for-profit world, there were previously no course offerings tailored to the unique challenges facing humanitarian organizations, said Pinar Keskinocak, a professor at Georgia Tech and a co-director of the center.

“Personnel involved in humanitarian logistics activities often do not have the necessary background and skills in logistics or supply chain management, which are key areas for efficient and effective preparedness and response,” Dr. Keskinocak said.

“Many of these inefficiencies, which cost lives, could have been avoided with advance planning and capacity building, effective management of response activities, and collaboration and coordination across agencies,” she said.

The program will feature a blend of both online and face-to-face classroom time, drawing on an international audience of employees from non-government organizations, humanitarian relief companies and government aid agencies.

Previous courses held by the center have been attended by professionals living in or working in more than 30 countries.

Following the completion of the program, which will feature courses on pre-planning strategies, tactical decision making and systems operations each once a year, participants will receive a certificate in health and humanitarian logistics from Georgia Tech. Courses will be held in January, May and September, respectively.

Each course will cost approximately $2,400, and scholarships for participants from NGOs and developing countries have been made available via partnerships with private donors and the United Parcel Service Foundation.

For more information and to register online for a course, visit