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Human Rights Studies

Department of History | The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology

Louise Burenby

Graduation: spring 2018
Work as: Organisation developer at Tamam

I work at Tamam, a national youth organisation, at the main office in Lund. During my bachelor studies I did an exchange semester in Lancaster, England, and did my internship at Tamam. The internship provided me with opportunity to turn everything I studied and theorised into practice. I meet a lot of youths, that just arrived as refugees in Sweden and it taught me a lot about the difficulties this group often meet. This was in 2016, at the same time as accepting refugees was discussed in media and I could see an obvious complexity regarding how refugees were portrayed. Words like “catastrophe” and “security risk” were used, instead of “humanitarian risks”. The situation was seen as a problem for Sweden. The focus was not on the risks that the people who had fled, leaving everything behind, were exposed to. Later on, my thesis “Språket som skapade krisen” (“The language that created the crisis”) looked at and compared media discourses regarding the refugees in Sweden in 2014-2016 and in the years 1990-1993, when a lot of people had to flee from the Balkans.

Why the Bachelor programme in Human Rights Studies?

First, I thought of studying law, but I knew that I wanted to work on societial change and influence change on a structural level, using a humanitarian approach. I wanted a future career with possibilities for progression, critical thinking and to be able to think outside the box. When I found the Bachelor programme in human rights studies it really felt spot on. I´m really pleased. The programme has a critical approach and sees the complete picture. Students are seen and included. It was tough and hard, but we got support and encouragement. I grew a lot as a person, but also in my career through the possibility to both find my niche, do an internship, as well as learning how problems can be approached in different ways. I really recommend everyone interested to apply. You must be ready to take it seriously and dedicate a lot of your time, but I think it´s good that the bar is set high.

What have you done since you graduated?

After my internship at Tamam I got a job there for six months. Then I went back to finish my studies. During spring 2018 I worked part time for a consultant working with management development, and studied sociology, with focus on organisational development. Today I´m back at Tamam, working full time as national organisation developer.

How did you come across your current employment?

I already knew that Tamam was a good work place, so when the job was advertised, I was recommended to apply. I did, and I got it, thanks to my experience within non-profit organisations.

Could you describe a normal work day?

It varies a lot. Tamam works with youths’ rights in society, issues of democracy, anti-racism, and integration. I help and support youths to self-organise and manage their activities. At the same time, I work strategically to establish and develop the organisation and make sure that our work is god, anti-oppressive and done with awareness. Thanks to my education, I can keep a holistic perspective to the things we do, with the ambition to change society on a structural level, nationally and internationally.

What are your recommendations to other students that would like to pursue a career in the same field?

Just do it. It´s difficult, but believe that you can and search actively. Working for the civil society is both educational and a lot of fun. You get the opportunity to work according to your values and with advocacy.

What are your thoughts of the new MA programme in Human Rights Studies?

I think it can be really good, interesting and rewarding. When I heard about it at first, it was just, wow, I want to do that. That it´s an international programme is crucial. Considering the questions you discuss in human rights studies, I believe a multifaceted student group enriches and adds value to the programme. Opportunity to learn from each other and get access to more perspectives. It is nice to be in a group where everyone shares the same principles and are in consensus, but the world we will work with is not like that..