Graduating in 2015, Anders Magnusson was looking back on an iridescent BIDS career. He majored in Human Geography and pursued MFS in Kenya, to now continue his studies at London School of Economics. Grown up in Stockholm, Anders always felt a “passion for travelling and exploring new places and cultures” and has connections to several countries outside Scandinavia. During BIDS he was engaged as both class and student representative and initiated various extra-academic activities. Anders encourages BIDSters to “[get] active, meet as many people as you can, try to develop your ideas into something real and don’t give up just because someone tells you that it’s not doable.”
Anders introduces himself
My name is Anders Magnusson, I’m 26 years old and born and raised in Stockholm. For as long as I can remember I’ve had an interest in politics, international affairs and the struggle against injustice. This, in combination with a passion for travelling and exploring new places and cultures, led me to start the BIDS program back in 2012. Prior to that I’ve attended the ‘Global College‘ in Stockholm, travelled from Sweden to South Africa using only public transport, worked in various supermarkets, and cut the fence to a nuclear power plant together with other Greenpeace activists, among many other things.
A couple of days after I started BIDS I was elected class representative in the year of 2015. A couple of months later I took on the role as alternate student representative and then continued as a student rep for the remaining 2 years. Together with a couple of other active students in our year, and some previous student reps, we started the BIDS Social Activities Group, initiated the Nollning, organised the Mentorship program and my very own baby, the BIDS Cooking Team! Furthermore, I’ve been active in the board of Pluto and in the representative assembly of the Social Science Union. It’s been a lot of things going on, but I really feel that these various engagements have provided me with a number of practical skills, such as leadership and planning, and I don’t regret doing any of it!
My major was in Human Geography (why would you ever choose something else?) and through the department I did a MFS in Kenya, investigating the socio-economic potential of, and related problems to the introduction of ‘biochar’ and ‘biochar producing stoves’ in rural areas. I also did a semester as an exchange student at University College London, something that I can highly recommend!
Minor Field Studies
I was in touch with Yahia Mahmoud at some point when deciding which major to choose, and we had some discussions about potential MFS projects, something that further encouraged me to choose Human Geography. During the 2nd year we kept in touch and discussed potential projects, and eventually I ended up with the biochar project in Kenya. We worked closely together on the application and later on he functioned as my supervisor while writing the thesis. The field work went really well, but I lost some motivation while writing the thesis. This was mainly due to the fact that I already got accepted to a number of master programmes and didn’t really have to worry about the grade of the thesis. I could really recommend talking to your professors early on and see if you could somehow join an already existing project. It proved to be a very efficient way, at least for me, given that there were people waiting for me to arrive in Kenya and helping me with all sorts of practical matters.
I applied, and got accepted to a number of master programmes throughout Europe, but London and The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was always the preferred choice (together with Science Po in Paris, to be honest…). I’ll study a 12-month master programme called ‘Urbanisation and Development‘ at the department of Geography and Environment. It is an absolutely amazing place to study, especially when it comes to people you’re surrounded by! The level of lecturing, fellow students, guest lectures and administration is a couple of steps up from what I’ve experienced before. Just in the last two weeks we’ve had guest lectures with Margot Wallström, Amartya Sen, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Ben Bernanke and the heads of EBRD and Oxfam, to name a few…
However, it also requires a lot from you. Right now I’m in the middle of a very intense period of essay writing, so I guess that could summarise my time at LSE rather well so far… I spent the last 6-7 days, including the weekend in the library from 9 to 9 or something like that. There are rather similar amounts of lectures and seminars per week compared to Lund. This semester I’m enrolled in three courses (2-3 hours/week each) and I audit one or two more, whenever I feel that I have time to do that. In one of the courses I’m currently taking the reading list itself was 85 pages long, with just names of books and articles. It’s very important to be able to structure your studies and filter out what is relevant to read or not. There’s just no way you’ll be able to keep up if you attempt to read everything on the reading lists. I would definitely recommend it though! If you’re ready to sacrifice a little bit of your social life for a year, and if you’re looking for an incredibly stimulating environment to study in, it’s the place to be. And in addition, London is the best city in the world!
If he wants to continue working with development…
Yes! For the moment I want to work, in one way or another, with planning the sustainable and liveable cities of the future, mainly with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. I don’t have any specific plans right now, but I hope that a master at LSE will open some doors later on.
Advice for fellow BIDSters
First of all, relax a little. It’s fun to be at a university, especially when studying social sciences in Lund, and all those problems that seem overwhelming will be solved in one way or another. Get active, meet as many people as you can, try to develop your ideas into something real and don’t give up just because someone tells you that it’s not doable. You can do whatever you want in Lund. And also, question the teachers more during lectures (but keep it on a reasonable and polite level), it’s more fun that way!
About his expectations of BIDS Alumni
Networking opportunities for the future! Both based on geographic location and different subjects.
Interview conducted and edited by Yannick Schwarz