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Value Sensitive Innovation: Integrating Ethical Values in the Humanitarian Use of Drones (FEAHD)

Researchers Involved

Dr. Ning Wang

PD Dr. Markus Christen

Prof. Dr. Matthew Hunt

research areas

Drones for Good
Social Acceptance


2018 - 2021


In this project, DSI researchers explore the notion of «value sensitive innovation» by investigating how to integrate ethical values in the humanitarian use of drones, in collaboration with international organisations and academic institutions around the globe.


This is a highly collaborative and trans-disciplinary project across public, private and academic sectors. Project partners include international organisations, such as World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Médécin Sans Frontières (MSF), and Medair; as well as academic institutions, such as McGill University, University of St. Gallen, and the Free University of Brussels. The project is funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS).

Framework for the Ethics Assessment of Humanitarian Drones (FEAHD)

The FEAHD addresses a specific problem – how to identify, interpret, and integrate ethical values in the humanitarian use of drones. It aims to create a pragmatic device to aid decision-making for the humanitarian drone community, within the broader context of value sensitive innovation. It consists of three levels of considerations, asking different sets of questions to the potential users to provide a value-based decision chain regarding whether to embark upon a drone project, and how to manage drone operations in a responsible and sustainable manner. This set of interconnected resources are different in form and focus, reflecting some key areas identified through a bottom-up approach. They are functionally independent from each other, but can be used in a coordinated fashion.

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FEAHD Workflow

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Invited Public Talks

Research Findings

Webinar Series


This webinar series consists of five independent chapters, featuring the key findings of this project. The objective of the webinar series is to share insights acquired on the research topic, disseminate research outputs to the scientific community and beyond, and facilitate knowledge exchange among stakeholders involved in humanitarian innovation broadly.

Project Overview

Scoping Literature Review

Empirical Study in Nepal

Empirical Study in Malawi

An Ethics Assessment Framework

Research Outputs

Scientific Publications

There are six scientific publications developed by the researchers in this project – four journal articles including a scoping literature review, two empirical studies, and an ethics assessment framework; as well as two conference papers, one focusing on mapping drones used in the humanitarian context, and another one focusing on delivery drones used in the development setting.

Supporting Value Sensitivity in the Humanitarian Use of Drones through An Ethics Assessment Framework

Ethical Considerations Associated with «Humanitarian Drones»: A Scoping Literature Review»

«As It Is Africa, It Is Ok»? Ethical Considerations of Development Use of Drones for Delivery in Malawi

«We Live on Hope…» Ethical Considerations of Humanitarian Use of Drones in Post-Disaster Nepal

«Killing Two Birds with One Stone»? A Case Study of Development Use of Drones

«A Success Story that Can Be Sold»? A Case Study of Humanitarian Use of Drones