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Truly Global: A Postgraduate Story

December 19, 2017

Portrait: Christie Nicoson

Portrait: Christie Nicoson
Photo by Cullen Kobayashi, CLAgency student

Christie Nicoson was originally drawn to the University of Minnesota to study the history of humanity. Global studies drew her to study humanity's future. Nicoson came to the University as an undergraduate interested in archaeology and classical Greek literature before finding her home in the Institute for Global Studies. The driving force behind her switch in studies centered around her desire to make a difference in the world.

“I found global studies was interesting to me and through it I could make a difference. So I chose that route and focused on human rights and justice. It was the combination of wanting to be more engaged through a social justice lens and an international focus. Global studies really lends itself to both,” Christie says.

Applying Her Degree

During her senior year, Christie interned as an exhibit coordinator at World Without Genocide, a human-rights-based nonprofit that focuses on genocide education and human rights political advocacy. Christie managed an interactive, multimedia exhibit entitled “Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict,” designed to educate about past and present genocides and conflicts. She worked with outside partners, including faith, civic, and academic institutions, to identify hosts for the exhibit. She also developed and publicized human rights programming related to the exhibit throughout the Midwest.

After graduating with her global studies BA in 2013, she returned to work at World Without Genocide full time as a program and operations director. Christie says her global studies education helped her find success. “I was able to take concepts that I learned from the bachelor’s program and not only put those into my work, but I was also ready to develop new skills like nonprofit management and accounting,” she says.

Mastering Her Degree Abroad

At World Without Genocide she learned about the Peace Rotary Fellowship, which she applied for and received, aiding her on the next stop on her journey: a master’s program at a university overseas.

In 2015, Christie enrolled in the master’s of social sciences program at Uppsala University in Sweden. One of the highlights from her education at Uppsala was the opportunity to take an elective course that included a six-month internship program. Christie interned in Geneva, Switzerland, for the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The OHCHR provides assistance to governments in highlighting and developing responses to human rights challenges across the globe. Christie worked in the Right to Development section where she dealt with variety of issues involving trade and good governance, but most of her time was spent on research focused on climate change and human rights.

“I worked on drafting recommendations for the wider UN and different bodies within state governments on how climate action could have a more integrated human rights based approach. We researched how those 2 components could be mutually beneficial and how they could be integrated to do so in policy and in practice.”

Looking to the Future

Christie is hoping to continue her research in Sweden on the connection between climate change, peace, and conflict.

“I am looking at how climate change impacts different communities at a local level, and how that is connected to concepts of conflict and peace,” she says. “More specifically, I am exploring how climate change impacts access to resources, public health, economic stability and political stability. We do this to look at how human rights frameworks and climate action programs and policies can be accommodated for combined risk management and integration programming in these areas.”

Through her experiences in nonprofits, academia, and intergovernmental agencies, Christie has observed that many experts work isolated in their fields. She credits her global studies background for preparing her to work more effectively across disciplinary silos.

“A global studies curriculum encourage students to work in a more interdisciplinary manner, to expand upon and overlap subjects,” she says. “Regardless of the direction students go after graduation, this area of study gives students a broader perspective in terms of thinking beyond traditional avenues for work and engagement, and pushes them to take a more holistic view of the world.”

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.