Daniel Magnil

Peace, security and climate adaptation

Daniel Magnil is pursuing the master's programme Politics, Security, and Crisis.

A few weeks into his master's program in Politics, Security, and Crisis, Daniel Magnil discovered his future career focus: peace and security linked to climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

After completing his bachelor's in political science, Daniel was eager to start working, but instead chose to enhance his qualifications for more interesting jobs through a master’s program. He has always been interested in international relations, and after graduating, he participated in a Sida-funded program in Colombia, visiting local organizations working to strengthen the democratic participation and influence of youth.

“There, I realized the opportunities to work with peace and democracy - not just on a voluntary basis.”

“I also realized that more than local efforts are needed, such as international agreements and efforts by states to strengthen human rights, among other things. My interest in these issues led to a bachelor's degree at Lund University.”

He chose to pursue a master's degree to increase his career opportunities

“Actually, I was tempted to go out and work, but many interesting positions require a master’s degree. And I found something unique at the Swedish Defence University, with a focus on international security policy, international relations in acute situations, and the balance of power among states, while delving into peace and conflict. I had only touched on this in Lund and wanted more. I wanted to learn more about how to work with these issues.”

“The world was and still is doing its part to make it feel more relevant than ever. During the admissions process for the master's program, Russia invaded Ukraine, changing the international security situation.”

When did you know you were in the right place?

“It was quick. I learned an incredible amount in the first few weeks and became aware of topics I wanted to work with in the future. I was already interested in the relationship between conflict and peace, but for instance, I hadn't delved into what security is - and how security is used in argumentation to gain power or score political points.”

Security issues are relevant in many contexts.

“Security is used in so many different contexts, such as related to crime, migration, climate change, digital communications, and military defense. I gained tools to identify how security can be used in various contexts, and sometimes without real security problems being involved. And when we problematized this issue early in the program, I knew I was in the right place.”

“I also didn't know much about crisis management. Now, we dived into how people and organizations function and should function to meet crises. In one of the courses, we delved into climate security and Disaster Risk Reduction - and that led me to write my master's thesis on disaster risk reduction.”

Field Study in Colombia

Tell me more about your master's thesis.

“It was a bit different. I can speak Spanish and conducted a field study in Colombia for a month. This was something I arranged myself with the support of a scholarship from a union, and of course, academic support from my advisor. The field study addressed the relationship between climate, security, and crisis management linked to social and political structures and conditions. This is exactly in line with my areas of interest.”

“I interviewed locals, indigenous people, government officials, and politicians about their understanding of Disaster Risk Reduction. Or more specifically, how different groups view their tools, what they lack, and which factors affect the implementation of risk-reducing measures, such as cultural and contextual knowledge.”

Daniel Magnil chose to study political psychology, climate security, human security, and a basic course in international law during the elective term.

“Political science is rewarding in that everything is politics - and thereby interesting - while security is a political phenomenon that is practically used everywhere. Much is encompassed within the field, and in this way, you get to shape your own education.”

Good dynamics in the classroom

“We were relatively close in age in my class but had different interests. From peace, diplomacy, climate security, and crisis management to a military focus on Swedish or international defense and military agreements. This means interesting contradictions - especially since we also came from different political orientations. This was very good for the classroom dynamics, and it took a while for us to settle in how all our perspectives were important. We got to practice in a micro-world - because that's exactly how it is out in the real world where we will soon work.”

“Smaller classes provide the opportunity to discuss a lot. Here in the master's program, we are not just sitting in a lecture and listening, but are very involved and contribute information. It was important for me to practice this, and it was also fun to feel that I already knew a lot.”

Surprised by the similarity with other Swedish universities

“When I applied to the Swedish Defence University, I didn't know that there are so many critical researchers here who problematize security issues and defense and who focus on feminism and climate-related issues. The Swedish Defence University is really like other Swedish universities in that they value research on issues such as gender equality. I only understood this when I started here.”

“When I talk to people outside school, they think of the Swedish Defence University primarily as a militarized institution. In some ways, it is true that the institution deals with defense and military issues, but I try to tell them about what we actually learn. Yes, we work with security issues, but we also choose to problematize them.”

The master's thesis was the most fun

“The master's thesis felt like the final step before you get to go out for real, it was definitely the most fun. It was a bit of 'proof of concept', because you set the frames and level of ambition. It was exciting and absolutely fantastic to feel that sense of freedom and independence.”

Have you finished studying now?

“Yes, now I want to go out and practice everything I've learned. But I am so grateful for the academic world, which has opened doors to exactly what I want to work on. And who knows, I might want to return in the future.”

Quick questions for Daniel Magnil

Born: 1998

Grew up in: Gothenburg

Upper secondary school programmes: Social Sciences Programme

Movie tips: "All of us strangers"

Last book you read for pleasure: "Blue" by Maja Lunde

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