Søren Rask Christensen – The Human Security Profile of April 2019

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

Søren, why did you decide to study human security at Aarhus University?
At the end of my Bachelor’s in Anthropology, I decided to enroll in the Human Security program because of its practice-oriented elements. The opportunity to do a work-placement was very appealing. It seemed like a unique opportunity to see how my academic profile would do in the kind of professional context, I dreamt about ending up in. Furthermore, what enticed me was the interdisciplinary and international academic environment of the program.

Foto / media Moesgaard (Michael Johansen).

Where did you do your work placement, and what did you learn?
I did my work placement at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) at the department located in Nairobi, Kenya. RUSI is the world’s oldest independent think-tank on international security. Their department in Nairobi implements programs that aim to prevent violent extremism, and to study and evaluate the impact the programs have. I became attached to their mentorship component that worked with youth at risk of radicalization in two cities. I followed the program and the young people in it closely for 3-months and wrote my thesis on the mentorship policy and its implementation.

My stay with RUSI taught me a lot about the immense complexity of making people with diverse cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds, work together towards a set of specific objectives. I also found it very inspirational to collaborate with dedicated young Kenyans working in such a demanding and conflict-laden context.

Majengo, Nairobi. One of the areas where I followed RUSI’s CVE mentorship. Photo for RUSI by Boniface Mwangi.
Majengo. Photo for RUSI by Boniface Mwangi.

What are you doing at the moment?
I am currently working as a researcher in a research project that compares two methods of restorative justice meetings in the Danish police’s mediation program. At the meetings, offenders and victims of crime are brought together to have a dialogue about the incident and how to repair the harm it has done. The project is a collaboration between Aarhus University, the police’s National Center for Prevention, and the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-based Policing. Through an experimental and mixed-methods approach, we aim to learn more about the meetings’ effects, how participants experience the meetings, and to identify potential casualties behind our results. At the current stage of the project, my usual workday entails communication back and forth with mediators and the seven police districts we collaborate with, as well as data processing and field observations of the restorative justice meetings.

From my observation chair at a restorative justice meeting, a few minutes before the parties arrive.

What have you taken with you from your human security studies?
Human Security has had a great impact on my current occupation and on my general professional interests. In the program, we had a course on conflict management and practical conflict mediation where we explored the anatomy of conflicts and had a two-day mediation workshop, where we got to try out victim-offender-mediation in practice. Around the same time, one of our lecturers had encouraged me to apply to become a volunteer in Red Cross Youth’s Street Mediation Program. As a street mediator, I facilitate workshops with youth on conflict management and informal mediation. For me, working with conflict management in Human Security and as a street mediator have been very meaningful and it has shaped the professional path I wish to pursue. With crime preventive precautions, conflict and mediation as my areas of expertise.

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