Filip Brolin

Employers are queuing up

Filip Brolin will soon meet a bright future. The Master’s programme Innovation, Defence and Security is a collaboration between companies, government agencies and organisations within the defence and security sector – a collaboration with unimpeached academic integrity but which responds to business needs.

Companies are in great need of people that can interpret between technical developers and systems users and find the best solutions. Now that the final term is approaching the end, employers are queuing up for Filip Brolin and his classmates.

Why did you choose the Master’s programme Innovation, Defence and Security?

“When I studied for a Bachelor in Political Science, I became interested in different methods and ways of approaching and trying to capture reality. Interdisciplinarity, quite simple. When I was choosing my Master’s programme, I aimed to continue across disciplines and broaden the scientific perspective but found that most Master’s programmes strive in the other direction – narrower towards specialisation. The Master’s programme Innovation, Defence and Security was what I was looking for.”

Tell us how the interdisciplinary view can contribute to society?

“It’s clearly evident that many of the challenges that society faces cannot be solved within one single science. Individuals with super specialised skills are needed but that needs to be combined with that these areas of knowledge speak with and understand each other. I see that the solution to many societal problems lie in this meeting – from defence issues to the future of the planet.”

“Let’s take Falsterbo as a concrete example with its risks for future flooding. You could look at the issue as a technical problem and build walls. But those who live in Falsterbo object to building walls and the question could be who has the right to decide on building walls. Then we land in a problem from a political science perspective. Another perspective is spatial planning because perhaps we shouldn’t build there at all. It’s about examining several perspectives so that those with technical skills speak with those that are knowledgeable in social aspects.”

“Solutions that stem from one perspective and understanding of the problem at hand simply do not offer the best long-term way of solving the problem. By only adopting one perspective of the problem, you also risk not considering the effects of the proposed solution.”

“Certain problems can perhaps be solved in the framework of one perspective but many require several perspectives to be effective and work in the long term. It’s about not just meeting a superficial interface but taking into account one another’s approach to the issue in a more profound way.”

And you want to participate?

“Yes, I have the will and drive to contribute to society, to be a link between different “languages” and separate ways of solving problems so that problems and solutions can find each other.”

Employers are already competing for you.

“That’s actually the case. They’re actively working towards forging a relation with us, and coming to introduce themselves. My feeling is that they are queuing up and just waiting for us to finish. Some in my class are already employed and working full or part time while they write their thesis. There’s simply a great interest in us.”

Describe a meeting with a company that is not aware of the Master’s programme.

“At first they’re stuck in thinking that there’s only the traditional political scientist and engineer – that you’re either one or the other and only possess one perspective. Then they understand that we’re both, and a bridge between disciplines. And that they need us.”

How do they react?

“Hey, this is super interesting, did you mention that you have classmates?” We really encounter tremendous interest and I believe that the programme will need to substantially expand in the coming years to meet demand. Consultant firms in industry are quickest and have understood what this is about, what we are and how we can be useful.”

You are now in the final term and have some companies trying to recruit you.

“I’m really looking forward to finish and start working. I have two job offers, which, of course, I can’t talk about. But that’s not particular for me, that what’s it’s like for all of us. I could get a job tomorrow, that’s how keen they are. But most of us want to finish our education and first get our degrees.”

What is your dream career?

“Further on I can see an opportunity to return to the academic world and study for a PhD. But most likely I’ll start by working a couple of years as an analyst at a defence-related agency or perhaps as a consultant in the defence industry. I would, for example, be happy to devote more time to the type of work that I’m now engaged in with my project assignment at the Swedish Defence Research Agency.”

Tell us more about that project assignment.

“I have an assignment to develop a game for training in total defence. Total defence is a system that is composed of people and technology. It’s not simple to obtain an overview, and without a knowledge of how the Swedish public administration is organised, it’s difficult to even start understanding how total defence is intended to work. And on top of that you have technology.”

“My assignment is both to develop a game, and test whether that is a viable method for learning about complex systems. The primary target group is operations analysts but in extension the game could be used in agencies to foster a fundamental idea about the total defence in its entirety.”

What different alternatives are there for the final term?

Roughly half of us have chosen purely theoretical theses and the other half practice-based projects with scientific requirements. This breadth will be really exciting to discover at the final seminar and mirrors the area between social sciences studies and natural sciences studies. We have everything: one is examining the concept of power projection to – what may be most tangible – another who is examining different technical standards for cybersecurity.”

Does this mean that you have unique profiles when you graduate?

“Yes, exactly. Min class consists of engineers, officers, data scientists and political scientists and we stand firm in our educational backgrounds. We subsequently choose courses based on interests and how we wish to specialise ourselves. This education could have been five years since there are so many interesting aspects. I’ve chosen the courses Risk Analysis, To Employ in the Security Sector, A Systems Perspective for Total Defence and Intelligence Analyses outside the programme.”

“Our varying backgrounds provide clarity among us concerning which underlying ideas we had with regard to science. At the same time, it becomes clear what you, yourself, know that the others don’t. To have the opportunity to meet in discussions, between students, has been a major benefit and really awesome.”

“And I must say that encountering the officer perspective has been especially interesting. They have the practitioner’s perspective since they have ideas and technical solutions that emanate from social sciences and natural sciences. These ideas are actually used by someone.”

Master's programme in Innovation, Defence and Security

Note that Innovation, Defence and Security is the new name of the Master's Programme formerly named Defence and Security Systems Development.

How would you describe the title of the Master’s programme Defence and Security Systems Development? Which systems are you examining?

“I think the title might lead you to solely think of technological systems but we examine systems in a broader sense. A system is something that encompasses various parts that influence one another. It might be simpler taking an example.”

“The objectives of defence systems are often abstract. One civil defence objective is, for example, to “maintain necessary supplies.” That immediately raises several questions: What, for example are “necessary supplies”? How are supplies organised in times of peace? How does “necessary supplies” contribute to the overall total defence objective of ensuring the ability to defend Sweden against an armed attack?”

“We probably already consider these questions as systems. If I claim that it is important for supplies that we have suppliers in different parts of the world, most will agree with me. If I claim that it’s important for supplies that we have a functioning transportation network, most will agree with me. If I claim that it’s important that we have spare parts, yes, most would agree with me also in that respect. It’s all connected in a system.”

“Another example which emanates from a lower level and advances further up could be the Swedish fighter plane Gripen. We could study this plane as its own system or we examine how it interacts with an opponent. You would then view the air battle as a system. Or we examine the airport together with the Gripen plane and include that as our system. We can view the entire air force as a system – or the entire Swedish Armed Forces. I’m working with a project where total defence is viewed as a system and the Gripen plane is, of course, part of that system.”

“Studying defence systems is precisely that – walking up and down in these staircases and connecting often abstract objectives with practical solutions. Parts of the programme are certainly more theoretical but that is because we must have an understanding of both technical as well as non-technical solutions.”

“My interpretation of the objectives of this education are to foster an understanding and knowledge about how different solutions at different levels in a system influence one another, and how they are connected to the more abstract problems that we’re trying to solve, such as defending Sweden.”

“Since I started this Master’s programme, I see systems everywhere. Is my computer a system? Yes, absolutely. Am I and my computer a system? Definitely. Is my family a system? 100 percent. Is society a system. Yes, I would dare to say that.”

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