Lotta Relander, whose research interests include state-building and conflict resolution in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, graduates this June with a master’s degree in African studies.
Lotta’s favorite class at Stanford was State-Building and the Rule of Law, which explores the multidisciplinary nature of development and asks how lawyers can contribute to the process. Taught by Erik Jensen, professor of the practice of law, the seminar gave her a solid foundation for subsequent research.
“During my time at Stanford, most of my research was based around developing an in-depth understanding of state-building in new nations, specifically South Sudan,” she said. “However, I always prefer to have a broader understanding of situations and a region and therefore also conducted research on other nations in my region of interest as well.”
“My degree program has strengthened my already existing opinion about the importance of interdisciplinary work, and how much sustainable solutions to any issue depend on holistic approaches,” she added.
One of her highlights from her time at Stanford was participating in Shifting Frames, a student-driven, discussion-based course that explores the framing of important African issues and debates. “Undergraduates dive into conversations about various topics on the African continent. It is a unique, structured environment that allows for conversations and honesty that is not found elsewhere on campus.”
Lotta is proud that she has followed her heart and pursued her personal research interests, despite those who questioned the practicality of her academic degree. “Anything you truly enjoy and are passionate about will bring you opportunities, and I am already seeing my efforts bear fruit,” she said.
After graduating, she is planning to pursue a career in international development, conflict, and security. Congratulations Lotta, and best of luck!
Please join us in congratulating the class of 2019! As the academic year draws to a close, we are highlighting students graduating from across our 14 programs. Click here to view more student spotlights.