Hide menu

A few quick minutes with Ross Duncan...

...Canadian master’s student at Linköping University, who is working for the non-governmental membership organisation Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in Kabul.

Ross DuncanIt wasn’t easy to get some time with you. Normally, you’re in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, but right now you’re in Linköping for a few intense days. How did this come about?

“I’ve just started studying in a master’s programme focusing on gender studies linked to issues such as ethnicity, class, and nationality, and I’m in Linköping for a few days for an initial meeting. The programme is a distance course, we’ll be meeting here a few times a year.”

You grew up in Scotland, live in Canada, and are now working in Afghanistan – how in general did you come to the idea of studying in a master’s programme at Linköping?

“I searched around the world for a programme that would meet my demands. What they have at Linköping University is exactly what I want to study. There are also similar programmes in other places, but I thought the programme was well-presented and that the courses seemed well-structured. In addition, thanks to my job for the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, I had my eyes opened to Sweden, which perhaps also contributed to my choice.”

What’s your first impression of the programme?

“It’s good. In my undergraduate education, I was more focused on the natural sciences, like biology. But gradually I became more and more interested in societal issues and sociology, like how people interact, human rights, issues of equality and social justice. This programme takes up exactly these questions. The lectures so far have been of really high quality. There are about 30–35 students, I guess; privileged European backgrounds, but they’ve done a great deal of different things – an interesting mix of people.
In general, I’ve gotten a good impression of Linköping University. I like the efforts on environmental questions; you can see several examples of this, especially all the bicycles on campus. And I’m couch-surfing at the home of an Iranian student, so I’m getting an impression of Linköping from a little different direction.”

Now you’re going back to Afghanistan. How did you end up there?

“Previously, I had a traineeship at a mine removal project in Colombia; in 2013 I worked for a French relief organisation in Tajikistan, a country that borders Afghanistan. My work there amounted to writing reports and coming up with proposals on issues concerning agricultural development and natural resources. But I also got into society in various ways and saw numerous injustices, a lack of human rights, and the situation for women and girls such as child marriage and girls who weren’t allowed to go to school. It was hard to take in, but it also gave me the motivation to work for improvements. So when I saw the advertisement from the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, it was natural for me to apply for the job.”

And you got it, against fierce competition from other applicants around the world. Do you know why?

He laughs. “No, not really. But I’d guess it had to do with my experiences in a neighbouring country and that I worked on writing reports there, similar to the job I’m doing now. In Kabul I work on planning, meeting targets, and evaluating the projects the Committee runs, in fields such as education, health, rural development and disability issues.”

Do you find any connections between your master’s studies and your work there?

“Yes, really, there are any number of contact points – for example, in questions concerning social justice, human rights, and gender. There is a lot that is difficult and discouraging in Afghani society, but there is also hope and many people who are really passionate about change. Six thousand Afghani people work for the Committee, and many of them belong to this group. Slowly, slowly – if only at a modest level – an interest is also growing in issues of masculinity within research – issues that are also important to discuss in a country like Afghanistan.”

How long will you be there?

“Until March 2016. I wish it could be longer. And I hope that I’ll be able to find an interesting subject there for my master’s studies.”

The world is in a great deal of ferment; Afghanistan is a country with major conflicts and where relief workers are deliberately murdered. Are you afraid?

“No, I don’t go around being scared for my life. We work together with Afghani people and can’t be driven by fear. Feeling confident is important. But obviously, security is something that is always on your mind.”

 

Related links


Eva Bergstedt 2014-09-01



Academic boycott

Protestplakat mot Trumps inreseförbudLiU researchers have joined international calls for a boycott of scientific conferences in the US.

 

risky perfectionism

Woman putting on make upPsychology students took on role of treaters in a study of perfectionism and internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy.

 

social sustainability

People in motionSocial value creation is on the agendas of more and more companies and organisations. Erik Jannesson, senior lecturer in management control, has just published a book on the subject.

 

Critical of the national board of health and welfare

Rolf HolmqvistRolf Holmqvist is one of 17 researchers who are critical to guidelines for the treatment of depression and anxiety.

 

when researchers meet vulnerability

Child in SyriaMalin Thor Tureby was keynote speaker at an international conference on oral history.

 

global media hit

CatCats that meow with a dialect have caused a sensation in the world media. Robert Eklund, a linguist who works with cats at the Department of Culture and Communication, has lost count of the number of times the work has been reported in the media.

 

farewell exchange students

Farewell Mingle 2016On 6 December, a Farewell Mingle was held for departing exchange students who have studied at Linköping University.

 

success for new master's

Stefan Jonsson"We have a global and critical perspective that attracts today's students," says Stefan Jonsson, professor at REMESO, about the Faculty of Arts and Science’s first international master’s programme at REMESO in Norrköping - Ethnic and Migration Studies.

 

health is our new religion

YogisAchieving perfect health has become a religion in the western world, according to a newly published study. Barbro Wijma, professor emerita and physician with many years of experience meeting patients, views this development with dismay.

 

black in sweden

Victoria Kawesa

Skin colour matters, also in Sweden. But many people don’t accept that racism is a problem here – only in other countries. So claims doctoral student Victoria Kawesa, who writes about black feminism and whiteness in Sweden.

 

redress for neglect

Shadows of peopleJohanna Sköld from Child Studies at Linköping University co-organised an international workshop where researchers compared various models of compensation for institutional neglect and abuse.

 

tomorrow's nobel laureates?

Pupils from a primary school in Skäggetorp Anna Lindström and Monika Lopez of the Department of Culture and Communication applied earlier this year for funding for an initiative in an issue relating to refugees. The funding was granted, and the “Tomorrow’s Nobel laureates” project was born. 

 

Alumni of the year 1

Suad Ali, porträtt

Suad Ali, expert on Sweden’s refugee quota, works tirelessly for refugees worldwide. For her dedication she has been chosen as one of Linköping University’s two Alumni of the Year.

 

Alumni of the Year 2

Thomas-Lunner-i-studioThomas Lunner’s research has given improved hearing to millions of people with impaired hearing. He has been chosen as one of this year’s Alumni of the Year.


Page manager: anna.nilsen@liu.se
Last updated: 2017-02-13