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“Think of why you chose to study and don’t doubt your decisions”

Radhika Gupta from India graduated from the Master’s programme in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), Stockholm University, in 2017. She now works as a Communications Project Manager at Stockholm International Water Institute.

Radhika Gupta
Photo: Marika Häggman

Why did you choose Stockholm University?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Design Communication from Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, and I’m also very passionate about the environment. I started to realise I needed a scientific backing to have more agency about what I communicate. I searched for a programme that had a broad scope. I was interested in people working with the concept of the Anthropocene, and I then came across Stockholm Resilience Centre. It seemed like the perfect fit for me – it covered topics of governance, economics, ecology and the linkages between those. And it looked like world class education. They also accepted students from a non-science background. It was actually the only master’s programme I applied for.

What was it like to study in Stockholm?

Stockholm gave me a great exposure to European culture: architecture, food, the Scandinavian lifestyle, Swedish values. And everyone talks about the nature, it’s was very different from what I was used to. I come from Bombay in India where there aren’t enough green spaces. Stockholm is unique in that sense, there’s nature everywhere and it’s very accessible.

The studies were challenging in many ways, I had to get used to reading scientific material and every concept was new to me. At the same time, it was really valuable. I learned how everything applied to the real world. And it’s amazing that you get one whole year to write your thesis.

What possibilities did your studies open up for you?

Among many things, I learned how different actors can have a dialogue and how research can make a difference. With this academic background I can do better analyses than in the past. I had great supervisors at SRC and I told them I would love to continue working with them. I got the opportunity to write a scientific paper of my master’s thesis after graduating and I then worked at SRC with different projects for two years. I realised that it was hard to break out of the scientific approach. I tried to be honest with myself about why I did that master’s: I wanted more agency in what I communicate. I then started to look for jobs within that field.

At the moment I’m only two weeks in at my current job as a communications project manager at Stockholm International Water Institute. But one thing I hope to do is to break down scientific texts. Academia and NGOs use a lot of words that normal people don’t understand. During my programme, I learned how to communicate my research. SRC encouraged us to simplify our results for a larger audience and to make good presentations.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to lift up voices from the ground. Communication is a powerful tool, and when you tell stories about people, people want to hear them. If the stories are coming from the bottom up and also supported by science, they can make a difference. Right now, a lot of the funding comes from the Global North. It is clear who sets agenda in the international space of development. With my background in communications, I also hope to bridge the North-South divide.

Is there anything you want to say to future Stockholm University students?

Time flies! Don’t worry about what your thesis is going to look like. You can get so much support from people around you, they are usually really nice, especially Swedes! Just enjoy being among so many international students. Think back of why you chose to study and don’t doubt your decisions. Your education is never a waste.

Read more about the Master's programme in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development



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