Anna-Lisa Noack (USA) about the Research Master's programme International Development Studies.
I grew up in Pennsylvania, USA where I also pursued my undergraduate studies of International Studies and French and Francophone Studies at Dickinson College. Towards the end of my studies there, I began to question what it means to participate in development. For years I had been interested in food and nutrition issues both in developed and developing countries and especially the connections between these challenges but had largely looked at these issues from an economic or policy perspective.
When I stumbled upon the Research Master’s programme International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam, I was impressed by how it seemed to allow for the space and opportunity to explore these questions. I thought that perhaps my questions needed to be approached from a social science perspective, something I knew little about. It was a spur of the moment decision to move to Amsterdam but one of the best decisions I have ever made. Looking back already, this journey has allowed me to fulfil a dream I never thought I could have realized so early in life.
I spent my second semester preparing the research proposal, revising and rethinking my questions and concepts on a daily basis. But it wasn’t until I arrived in the research location in rural Southwest Kenya that I realized the social complexity of the issue I had been reading about for months on end. Before going to the field, I had come to understand that food security is often thought of as a technical failure in agricultural production or a lack of particular nutrients.
It is now in the thesis writing process that I can see how far I have come from the first days of starting the Master’s programme. Drawing on extensive literature and building on five months of qualitative and quantitative data collected in the ‘field’, I realized that without considering the social complexity of food systems, food and nutrition security can only be partially understood. Through these studies, I have been given the chance to not only unpack theories but also to look at development policies and how they are viewed by intended beneficiaries. In addition to helping me develop academically, the months leading up to and conducting fieldwork contributed greatly to my personal development as this period engaged and challenged every part of my being.
Moving to Amsterdam has exposed me to new ideas and truly exceptional people from around the globe that have both contributed tremendously to my academic growth and have become friends for life. I hope to begin my professional life with an organization, institute, or consultancy in Western Europe to continue my work on incorporating social dimensions in food and nutrition studies and programmes.
My only advice for anyone looking to pursue this programme is to know what you are passionate about and follow that passion. Two years is a long time but it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to study exactly what you love.
Would you like to contact Anna-Lisa and hear more about this programme? You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org