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Josefine Carlsson: Combining a Career in Social Work with Study in Human Rights

Josefine Carlsson (‘19SPS, Human Rights CPA) grew up in Sweden and, a little over two years ago, received her bachelors in social work. After graduating, she worked as a social worker, connecting young adults with financial issues to social services. 

But Josefine had always been interested in human rights, ever since learning about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Wanting to study in New York, she came across the Human Rights Certificate of Professional Achievement available through Columbia Summer.

We sat down with Josefine to learn a little bit more about her experience in the program:

What were you doing before the Human Rights CPA?

I’m from Sweden and I have a bachelors in social work from University of Gothenburg. Before I came to Columbia, I worked in Sweden as a social worker for two years. I worked with young adults with financial issues, in social services.

What attracted you to the Columbia Summer Program?

I wanted to come to New York and I was looking into different programs. I found the Human Rights program at Columbia. I’ve always been interested in human rights and found it tied to social work as well. 

Which courses did you enroll in and what skills did you learn? 

There were a few courses that were required: “Introduction to Human Rights” and “International Human Rights Law.” In addition to that, I did “Children’s Rights in Armed Conflict” and “Human Rights and the Global Economy.”

I learned so much during the whole summer. In my social work program in Sweden, we talked about human rights but we did not go in-depth into the different conventions and treaties. I learned a lot about human rights law and how it can be applied. We also had a couple of visits from professionals in the field and we also visited Human Rights Watch. You got to see how you could work within the area of human rights.

The program changed the way I look at my future and what I want to do moving forward.

— Josefine Carlsson, ‘19SPS, Human Rights CPA

Did you have any particularly helpful professors?

All of my professors were really great. I liked the small groups we had and how we got to work closely with professors. The professor I had in “Children’s Rights in Armed Conflict,” there were only three students, so we became close, the four of us. 

What was your most memorable experience at Columbia?

Being in a new country and at a university that is very different from Sweden. The amazing campus and the professors who are engaged in their work was very inspiring.

JOsefine CArlsson Statue of LIberty

How have you taken what you learned forward with you in your career?

After the program last summer, I started doing my Master’s in Social Work. I’m actually using the courses from Columbia to help guide how I put the program together. Now, I’m writing my thesis. I’m trying to combine social work and human rights. My thesis is actually based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child

The program changed the way I look at my future and what I want to do moving forward. I now hope to have a job combining international social work and human rights, advocating for human rights on an international level. 

Learn more about the Human Rights Certificate of Professional Achievement at Columbia Summer.