It's been just three years since Natacha Klein graduated from LiU's MSc in Science for Sustainable Development but in that time she's achieved a lot.
Since 2015, the sustainability scientist has completed internships at the UN Environment Program, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Natacha believes it was her master's degree from LiU, which is ranked among the world's top 30 young universities, that opened doors to these prestigious global organisations.
“My background in multi-disciplinary sustainable development helped me get these opportunities. During the internship at the Ramsar Convention I wrote a publication and all of the research skills, like writing a report and collecting data, I had already done during my MA so it helped me land the job at the IUCN.”
Photo: Natacha Klein
The two-year MSc in Science for Sustainable Development is tailored to prepare students for a career in the sustainability and environmental field. Even the structure of the programme, with its distinct lack of exams, mirrors working life as opposed to the typical academic setup.
“We had no exams, only reports or presentations. I think that was very good,” recalls Natacha. “My BA was only exams, learning by heart then forgetting everything straight after the exam. At LiU, you focus on writing something and critically thinking about a subject or problematic research topic.”
Natacha also appreciated being part of a small cohort that worked closely to solve real-world problems. Teaming up to tackle a broad range of topics from climate change and sustainability issues to resource and water management gave her a taste of life in a fast-paced research environment.
“It was good that it was a small programme because we could work together more in-depth. You only have one course at a time. So you just focus on one topic for five weeks, do the coursework then move on.”
For Natacha, one of the most valuable aspects of the course was the opportunity to take a five-week internship before graduation. It gave her an insight into how her learnings could be applied in a commercial setting, expanding her overall understanding of the field and helping her to get more varied experience.
“A member of my family works at Ikea so I did a 5-week internship in the sustainability department. That was hugely useful for me to see how sustainability worked in a company like that.”
Natacha has now moved onto start a PhD on circular economy at Universidade Nova de Lisboa but still credits LiU with laying the groundwork for her future academic career.
“I've just started my PhD and I feel like all the proper academic areas and writing in a scientific way I practised a lot during my master's.”
Multi-disciplinary master's programmes
Much like the MSc in Science for Sustainable Development, LiU's new MSc Computational Social Science programme is a multi-disciplinary master's degree. Blending computer science, statistics and the social sciences, the programme teaches students to address socio-cultural questions using statistical and computational methods.
“It's about trying to get students to become not just quantitative social science researchers but getting them to learn how to deal with large and complex data sets and answer very specific social science research questions,” Dr. Jarvis tells The Local.
Dr. Jarvis. Photo: Thor Balkhed, Linköping University
He explains that the field, while young, is becoming increasingly relevant for all sectors as they recognise the potential of ‘big data'. The new programme, therefore, is a career springboard for number-crunching techies with an interest in the social sciences…or vice versa.
“Social research is happening all the time; there are big companies doing social research but also governments who are trying to figure out what policies will best serve their constituents. There's also huge academic interest in this stuff. And so wherever the students we get want to go, we are offering them something that they can take to any sector in the economy.”
He adds that, while the university trains the students to come up with good research questions, it's up to the students to decide which sub-discipline to do their research in. It gives them more scope to tailor their own education and make them more employable following graduation.
“At the moment we have people doing all sorts of things from studying management and organisations to people looking into discourse online or how users on Spotify influence each other's musical tastes.”
It's still early days but Dr. Jarvis hopes that graduates of the programme will go on to make a positive contribution in whatever fields they enter. In the meantime, he says that he has high ambitions for them -- the programme culminates with students submitting a piece of original social science research that, in some cases, he believes could make an impact outside the university.
“Most of our students should be able to do some kind of research that has either an impact in an academic sense, such as producing a published research paper, or they could have an impact in a private company or perhaps municipal government in terms of analysing data and coming up with a solution to a problem they have in those organisations.”
Choose a master's degree at Linköping University and make an impact while you study. Click here to find out more about the master's programmes offered at the university.
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Linköping University.