This is a post from The Human Security Angle: the newsletter of the Master’s Programme in Human Security at Aarhus University.
Anssi, why did you decide to study human security at Aarhus University?
I believe I decided to apply for the human security programme because I had already done a minor subject about security studies during my bachelor studies at the University of Lapland, and also took a course specifically about human security during my exchange studies in Prague. I liked (and still like) the way the “human security lens” enables one to approach security questions in a more comprehensive manner. I also thought that the programme would provide a good continuum for my security-focused bachelor studies in international relations while also providing me with something new through its interdisciplinary approach.
Where did you do your work placement, and what did you learn?
I actually ended up doing two work placements, although only one of them was officially taken into account as part of my Master’s studies. For the first placement, I went to Malta to work for a local human rights NGO that did research and advocacy work on refugees rights in the country. I contributed to a research project that aimed to provide durable solutions to unaccompanied minors arriving in the EU and looked at how EU-level legislation was reflected into practice in the Maltese context. The second placement was for Danish Demining Group, a unit of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), based in their headquarter in Copenhagen. After my work placement, I ended up doing my thesis in close cooperation with DRC and, for a while, I also continued to work for them part-time.
What are you doing at the moment?
Currently, I work as an information analyst for the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) based in Geneva. ACAPS is a NGO providing independent and multi-sectoral humanitarian analysis for the wider humanitarian community, enabling crisis responders to better understand and thereby better address the needs of the crisis affected population. ACAPS has been referred to as the “Lonely Planet” for humanitarians. I closely follow 10-15 conflicts around the world and conduct analyses about conflict developments and how they impact humanitarian needs, flag potential risk scenarios, and communicate this information to a variety of stakeholders including decision-makers in operational agencies and donors.
What have you taken with you from your human security studies?
Coming from an international relations/security studies background, the cross-disciplinary nature of the programme widened my scope to better understand the environmental side of disasters. More than that, it gave me the experience of how it is to work with professionals with different backgrounds. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is an important part of my current work as I need to consult and coordinate with experts from different humanitarian sectors. To do this successfully, I need a certain level of self-understanding, just as I need to understand things from their viewpoint. Previous experiences of working in a cross-disciplinary context definitely help in this regard.