Kira Walker: The Human Security Profile of March 2018

This is a post from The Human Security Angle: the newsletter of the Master’s Programme in Human Security at Aarhus University. 

Kira, why did you decide to study human security at Aarhus University?
Working as a journalist in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region had a significant influence on my decision. Though I was focused on environmental affairs, proximity to the wars in Iraq and Syria made me want to learn about the root causes of conflict, which as a Geography undergraduate I’d not studied academically. I was particularly interested in studying the environmental dimensions of and connections to conflict, with the intention of better understanding the context and region I’d been working in.

Once I decided to study a master’s degree, I was specifically looking for a programme that brought together environmental, conflict and security studies. For this reason the human security programme at Aarhus University stood out and immediately piqued my interest. I was also drawn to its broad, multidisciplinary approach and the diverse courses offered.

A photo taken shortly after submitting my thesis; feeling tired, immensely relieved and joyful all at once.

Where did you do your work placement, and what did you learn?
I did my work placement in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq with the Save the Tigris Campaign, an environmental advocacy initiative working to preserve the cultural and environmental heritage of the Tigris Euphrates River Basin. I was familiar with the campaign, and several of my main interests – transboundary water issues, water security and environmental peacebuilding – overlap with their areas of focus, so it was a natural fit.

My experience with the campaign helped me understand the numerous challenges and obstacles environmental organizations and activists face in Iraq, and was influential in choosing my thesis topic – on the need for local environmental education in order to strengthen environmental security in the Kurdistan Region.

Much of my research involved speaking with farmers in the Kurdistan Region to understand how they were coping with recurrent droughts, pollution and a protracted economic recession. Here, Hussein was explaining that his pomegranates weren’t doing well that year, for reasons he wasn’t sure of.

What are you doing at the moment?
I’m newly based in rural Andalusia, learning Spanish, and in the early stages of a series of independent journalism projects exploring environmental security and the impacts of climate change across the Mediterranean. I’m currently researching and planning, and have numerous reporting trips lined up for the year where I’ll do research on the ground, carry out interviews and document my findings visually.

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Much of Southern Spain is at risk of turning to desert in the coming decades due to climate change. Andalucía, pictured here, is where I now live, and is one of the areas I’ll be focusing on in my series of journalism projects looking at environmental security and the impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean.

What have you taken with you from your human security studies?
A lot! When I returned to work I was able to fully appreciate the extent to which my studies have shaped the way I observe and analyze the world around me for the better. I came away from the programme with sharper writing and analysis skills, heightened curiosity and a deep respect for anthropological and holistic approaches.


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