By Kirstine Saxe Nordal
Jessica Baier, 25, graduated in 2019 from the Human Security program at Aarhus University. The master’s degree, including a semester of project placement with Aarhus Municipality’s Climate Department, becomes the continuation of her long-lasting interest within climate change and the NGO world.
When finishing her bachelor’s degree of political science and linguistics at Halle University in Germany, Jessica Baier is looking for diversion from the university life. She leaves for Amsterdam doing two different internships in NGO’s working with plastic and food waste. She is attracted to working at the local macro level, where she feels she can engage and contribute with her own experience and interest.
Halle – Amsterdam – Aarhus
Already before Jessica Baier went to Amsterdam, she read about the Human Security program in Aarhus University and remember: “I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I kept it in the back of my head and applied while I was in Amsterdam.” She explains how she was “very intrigued by the only program with a scientific approach and environmental management where prior experience is not required.”
She is admitted to the program in the summer 2017 and has high expectations as she has lived in Denmark before and know that educational system has a good rumor regarding working methods and a low degree of hierarchy. “In Germany we would have been 400 students in a huge auditorium and our professor would never have known us. In Denmark, it was astonishing to experience myself how the professors at Human Security were so welcoming, open and non-authoritarian.”
The practical approach of the Human Security program generates a lot of motivation for Jessica Baier. “We had a case in the course on agroecology on GMO cotton production in India. We gained knowledge about organic ways to cure pest and people at the same time and it made me feel that I would love to just have a garden and go out and try it myself.” At the same time, Jessica Baier made her mark on the program. The reusable coffee cups, which other students daily make use of in the canteen at Moesgaard Campus where implemented thanks to her and a group of other students who dissatisfied with the disposable cups.
Going faraway or staying local to work with climate?
Along the semesters, Jessica feels that her strong interest within volunteering and activism melts together with the methods of Human Security. “It was really beneficial for me to learn to zoom out sometimes and see things from a different perspective and not being too narrow.”
When reaching the third semester where all Human Security students leave the university to engage in the real world in one way or another, Jessica could not really justify going a long way on an airplane to work with climate. “I was still feeling attracted to the NGO world, but I thought that I had tried it so maybe I should try something else working in the public field. I was thinking that maybe I should go to a faraway island and document something about climate change, but then I reflected on it, and decided to stay in Aarhus instead.”
Jessica Baier settles an internship with Aarhus Municipality Climate Department and in the beginning, she is surprised over the work procedure. “They are quite progressive compared to other cities both in Denmark and abroad. I was actually surprised how much their work reminded me of an NGO. The workers are so motivated but meet many walls. That has luckily changed during the past year since climate change has gotten so much attention.”
She recognizes how the interdisciplinarity from studying Human Security also applies to this department. “It fit really well with Human Security because people come with so many different professions.” Jessica Baier engaged in various tasks during her project placement at Aarhus Municipality Climate Department within the track called Local commitment and Growth.
Jessica Baier continues as a student helper at the Climate Department after finishing her project placement. “I was really lucky that three months after finishing the internship there was an opening as a student helper. Then, in summer we found out that there was more to do, and they offered me a one-year job contract.” Jessica Baier is now working full time implementing the climate strategy for Aarhus Municipality and is full of appreciation of her journey towards improving the climate.