Alumni spotlight #21 Johan Andersen

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.04.13Read about Johan Andersen who graduated from the BIDS programme in 2015 with a major in sociology. Johan has now decided to further study the field of sociology within his current Master studies
in Nationalism Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest.
During the 6th semester of the BIDS programme Johan did an interesting internship that included country specific academic writing assignments, which allowed him to use skills gained from the BIDS programme.

Spotlight Special: Internship during the 6th semester in BIDS

During the 6th semester of the BIDS programme, Johan Anderson did an internship in the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD) in Visby, Gotland.

ICLD is a think-tank which promotes cooperation between Swedish countries and partner countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Additionally the organisation also facilitate ”International Training programmes” with goals of educating and empowering government officials. Examples of projects range from wast management training in Vietnam and agricultural development in Tanzania. Johan stresses; ”I had a great time during my internship; it was my first time to visit Visby and Gotland, and I got to know some fantastic colleagues.”.

What were your tasks during the internship?

“My tasks varied greatly. I had administrative tasks related to overseeing projects that were being undertaken in “partner municipalities” situated in Africa, Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Asia. The tasks then was to go through the development projects.”

Johan got to write a report with his input on development projects in Tanzania, ranging from agricultural subsidies to chicken coops, improving infrastructure in order to economically empower Maasai farmers, educating women in order to increase the likeliness of their businesses to succeed etc. For these projects johan has been able to benefit from his knowledge of Tanzanian history, challenges that Tanzania face and patriarchal, tribal and urban social structures within Tanzania.

Moreover, Johan collaborated with the Knowledge Center to help creating a presentation for a workshop about governance, a subject that he had studied during his major in the BIDS programme. “The final project that I was working and finished was a report with information about Ukraine; the political, economic and social development that the country has been going through right now, and the current state-of-affairs with the partnerships between Swedish counties and Ukrainian counties.”

Other tasks Johan was handed would be to provide knowledge about the typical development discourses within certain regions or countries in the world. Additionally he had to be able to include his own interest of history in work assignments; “Participating in meetings and being part of the everyday life at work taught me a lot about working at an “academic” workplace; and as a bonus I learned to appreciate the morning and afternoon “Fika” as an institution which allowed for further discussion of work assignments, and the political as well as the general events taking place in the world.”.

Was the internship related to your major?

“Yes and no. I majored in Sociology and while it was easy to relate the internship to the overall “BIDS” programme, it took a bit of creativity to relate it to my major. I was able to relate the internship with the general courses and teachings I have received during my major (welfare studies and migration policies), and besides that contribute with outside interests and focuses. I went ahead with the internship because I wanted practical experience and I wanted to see how things worked at a real research facility. At the time I applied for the internship I wasn’t 100% certain about the topic of my Bachelor Thesis. I decided to write my thesis about the integration of Danish people in Malmö. I would look into the political development and the perception of identity, with the Øresund bridge as a factor which makes it possible to work and live in two countries without any obstacles. Doing an internship and being situated in Visby, Gotland, while writing about Malmö proved to be a challenge. Nevertheless, I am happy that I made the decision to pursue the internship as I got to expand my network greatly and learned a lot from my stay.”

Do you feel like the internship enriched your BIDS experience? Why did you chose an internship over a field study?

“Yes, it did. The university cannot provide us with the practical experience and network from a work environment – it is our own responsibility to seek it and connect it with knowledge and experience gained from our studies. Doing an internship meant that the BIDS programme became the “full-package” for me; with both academic as well as practical knowledge.”

Would you recommend current BIDS students to do an internship in their 6th semester? Why?

“Definitely. Doing an internship is a great way to experience something different, and to get a break from the usual student life in Lund. It is an experience which will give you a new perspective on things, as well as you will develop skills that you wouldn’t get to know through attending classes at 08.00 in the morning.”

What are you currently doing?

“I am currently enrolled in the MA in Nationalism Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. I am very interested in the sociological aspect of nationalism (how people identify themselves as part of a “nation” and exclude others from the same nation) and the current political development within Europe, with right-wing populist parties gaining an increased momentum. Applying for the Master’s programme felt like the next step in my academic career, and I am currently enjoying it very much. I was awarded with a Tuition fee scholarship, which meant that the university covered the 17.000 euro I would otherwise have to pay yearly. The Nationalism Studies is one of the smallest faculties at the university; typically we are 6-10 people in a class – this however provides a great opportunity for discussing relevant topics and developments within the field with other students as well as the professors.”

“My focus area is the development of the “modern” Danish national identity as a consequence of war, religion and national trauma. The most important factors are the State bankruptcy (1813), loss of Norway (1814), Grundtvigianism (religious/political movement promoting the Danish language and identity – 1820-1870), the Death of King Christian VIII (1848), and the Danish constitution (1848/1849); which raised the question of what it meant to be Danish. German nationalism (based on a Volksgeist – a perceived ancient “heritage”) and the ideals from the French revolution of liberties for the common people both played a significant impact on Denmark during this period, and to a large extent promoted the civil war between Danes and Germans in the southern part of Denmark/Northern part of Germany known as Slesvig.”

“Furthermore I plan on expanding my studies to also include Norway, especially the period after 1814 when the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway is dissolved and we saw the rise of a strong Norwegian national identity both opposed to Sweden and Denmark in various forms (such as language). Scandinavian history is one of my great interests, so it will be likely that I might be looking into Swedish history and the creation of the Swedish national identity during my studies; I must admit however that I am not so well versed in Swedish history as compared to Norwegian and Danish history.”

Any advice for current BIDS students?

“Make sure to make the most out of your time at Lund University. Whether you go on an internship, field study or stay in Lund, make sure to network and participate in events related to your field and interests. Having a goal in mind when doing your studies is great, but don’t forget to relax and have fun. Go have a “fika” and enjoy the cold, rainy and windy Scandinavian autumn/winter looking out a window… Oh, and don’t stay up the night before a deadline to write an entire paper ;)”.


Interview conducted by Ruby Casellini
Edited by Kia Silvennoinen, Anna Ngwanza and Karla Andersen 

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