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International Development Studies

The discussions we had were incredibly relevant, not only for me and my peers, but also to shape the future of the field

Alumna Agnes Lidbrink-Ekman explains why she chose to apply to International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam and how she came to work at the Swedish NGO RFSU.


While studying for my bachelors in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, I was introduced us to a wide variety of topics surrounding economic, social and environmental sustainability. However, I quickly realised that what interested me the most was global health and reproductive rights. I thus wrote my thesis on the relationship between SDG 3 (Health), SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and Comprehensive Sexuality Education, also commenting on the role the university had to play in ensuring that all its students had access to relevant knowledge. When graduating, I felt like this was a topic that deserved more attention, and looked for opportunities to deepen my research.

Relevant discussions

My focus then turned to the University of Amsterdam. The city had previously appeared in discussions surrounding sustainability throughout my bachelors, and my research had also introduced me to several Dutch organisations and researchers working with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). I thus decided to apply to the MSc in International Development Studies, with a goal of continuing my development journey, while also exploring SRHR from new perspectives.

Apart from allowing me to pursue my interests and learn about current issues, this MSc also took everything I had previously learnt and made me question it, problematising development itself. Through courses like ‘Core Issues in International Development Studies’ and ‘Gender, Intersectionality and Development’, we examined development from a critical and intersectional perspective, with in-depth discussions questioning mainstream development discourses and neo-colonial narratives. I found these discussions to be incredibly relevant, not only for me and my peers, but also to shape the future of the field, and I greatly appreciated how reflective and critical all the professors were.


Despite the Covid-19 pandemic limiting the opportunities for the 10-week fieldwork period, I also really appreciated the opportunity to ourselves choose the topic and type of research we wanted to do. Although I had already decided to continue researching the topic of online sexuality education, I got very inspired by the diverse interests and paths chosen by my peers. From examining the coloniality of the education system in Hawaii, to analysing the representation of refugees in the British media, we were free to pursue the interests which most appealed to us, each one following their own path.

The flexible ways of working also allowed me to do a (remote) internship at the Swedish NGO RFSU, partnering with organisations internationally to advocate for SRHR. This gave me insight in how a modern NGO works today, and after our critical discussions at UvA, I really appreciated how this organisation explicitly incorporated feminist and intersectional perspectives in their work. Thus, after completing my research and receiving my MSc, I chose to continue working for RFSU, and I greatly appreciate how my time at UvA prepared me for a future within development as it looks today.