Alumni Spotlight #8 Denise Beniwa Johnson

Denis_BIDSDenise Beniwa, majored in Sociology, during her third year in the program she did an internship at Swedwatch where she was given tasks such as risk analysis on different industries and labour rights. Early on, she became interested in understanding what it is that upholds structures of inequality and understanding international relations, this is what lead her to chose the BIDS program.



Specification during the BIDS-Programme

My major is in sociology, and I actually studied international migration, environmental sociology and welfare policies. During my second year I also took a course in human rights and acquired a few extra credits by studying a course called cross-cultural rhetoric.


During my last year I did an internship. As CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) had for long been one of my main interests I ended up at an organization called Swedwatch. Swedwatch investigates Swedish corporate involvement in developing countries, among other things. Through my internship I really learned a lot as I was given responsibility for conducting very interesting tasks such as risk analyses on different industries and labor rights within those, and pre-studies on various companies and products.

Useful lessons from the BIDS-programme 

To be honest, what I find most useful from the BIDS-program is not the specific knowledge on e.g. certain policies or certain agreements between states and international institutions and such, but rather the way you get to understand how the world actually works. What I mean is that, by learning how international relations function more in practice, what colonial legacy actually means for us in today’s society, and how nation-states works with policies has been more useful for me than remembering specific details of certain agreements and such. What has been very useful is also that I learned how to study effectively, write structured reports/papers and more importantly how analyze cases and to think critically. Having a good analytical mind and being able to think critically is super important, regardless of where you are, whatever you are working with and whoever you are.

Other development-related activities 

I just recently joined an organization called interfem: a feminist and anti-racist organization that works with increasing society, organizations’ and corporations’ knowledge on equality with an intersectional focus.

During my bachelor I was also very engaged in work at my student nation, Blekingska Nationen. I was manager for the Saturday brunch for almost a year, editor in chief for the webzine, and finally I actually started up a new committee, POPCORN. POPCORN’s aim is to continuously work with equality within the nation and also student life in general in Lund. Through POPCORN I hosted several lectures, documentary evenings, discussion seminars and even parties (alcohol-free) where anyone, even non-students could attend.

In general I would say that my ambition for gender equality, class equality, and anti-racism, is what drives me in all type of development related activities that I engage in.

Life after BIDS 

After BIDS I applied for a master program in Management Studies – I am currently in the second out of four terms (the program is two years in total). The program is very interesting and I am very happy that I was able to do an internship at Swedwatch, since it was largely through my work there that I realized that I wanted to know more about the functions of the corporate world. At my current masters that is basically what I am learning about. How corporations affect society and vice versa, how society has changed and corporations’ role in that change etc. And I am of course also learning a lot about management, how leadership is viewed, how change within organizations and corporations take place and such. According to me the BIDS program falls a little bit short in teaching students about the role of corporations in development: what it has been, is today and could be in the future.

Tips for future BIDSters

If you know exactly what you want to work with in the future, awesome – But if you don’t, don’t panic. As I see it, what you learn in BIDS will be helpful, regardless of where you end up. I want to try many different things and work in different places, and having BIDS as the backbone of my studies I feel hopeful in being able to do so…

What I wish to get out from the BIDS Alumni page 

Inspiration. I think it would be helpful to see the many ways in which people have made use of their skills acquired in BIDS to open student’s eyes to what is possible after graduation.

Do you have any BIDS-related future plans?

As I mentioned above, the BIDS-thinking will be useful wherever I end up. So yes, I would say that my plans are BIDS-related. After graduating from my master in Management Studies I hope to work either with some kind of CSR research or work with gender-, and class- equality, and anti-racism in one way or another.



Interview conducted by Marika Samuelsson, edited by Kia Silvennoinen

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