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Zeynep Erdal

Master of Science in Development Studies

Zeynep Erdal is one of our students who chose to apply for the Graduate Scool Double Degree Programme. This programme is a unique collaboration with Fudan University, China, allowing students to study in both Lund and Fudan, and thus receive a double degree.


Zeynep, an alumna

Why Development Studies?

"I am a 28 years old young woman from Skåne, with Kurdish parents from Turkey. My aspiration to enhance societal development on a global scale and in an international setting prompted me to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations at Malmo University. After graduating in 2009, I began working as an integration pedagogue for unaccompanied refugee children in Sweden.

My career path and life took an unexpected turn when I was accepted to the double-degree program between Lund University and Fudan University in Shanghai, and received a MSc in Development Studies (major Political science) respectively Master of Law in Chinese Society (major Sociology). I spent my final year in China and conducted a field research in Hubei Province for my thesis, that evaluated the long-term impacts of a hydropower project on local socio-economic development."

Why do a double degree in Fudan?

"I discovered my great passion for field research and desire to pass on my knowledge onto others. Hence, when I was offered a Teaching Assistant and Capstone Coordinator position at Fudan University I gladly accepted. For three semesters I taught American undergraduate students how to conduct field research in a Chinese context, gave lectures in qualitative research methodology, and have to-date supervised 54 research projects that have covered various of issues in current Chinese society. My passion for research prompted me to begin working with Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI), a research and consultancy firm headquartered in South Africa. After completing a 6-month internship as a junior analyst on Sino-Africa affairs, I was offered a position as a Regional Analyst at CAI’s Africa Asia Monthly Monitor series and conducted updated analysis of Asian investments in the African continent, in-depth analytical features and interview coverage.

To further develop my expertise on Chinese society and politics, I continue to live in Shanghai to learn Mandarin, and am simultaneously working as a freelance Consultant and Analyst. I am involved in several projects that cover a wide range of issues including employment sector development, Sino-Africa economical cooperation and geopolitics in the Arctic region.  I also volunteer at a Chinese NGO that builds libraries in schools in the Chinese countryside. 

The Development Studies program provided me with excellent qualitative research skills, and developed my critical thinking as well as analytical skills – which constitute the basis for my success as a writer, lecturer and analyst. The international setting of my class made our in-class discussions an invaluable source of knowledge, and provided me with a deeper understanding of how contextuality and discourses shape realities and policies. Thanks to the guidance and the precious support from my coordinators at LU, I was also able to seize the opportunity to move to China."

What about career?

"When defining my career path, I have always tried to have a clear yet flexible target, and seized opportunities whenever presented. Internships and volunteer activities have been a first step into acquiring work experience within my field. I have attended and presented at various of international conferences, seminars and networking events – which has been a valuable platform to meet fellow experts, colleagues and potential employers. Moving abroad has been invaluable for my personal as well as professional development. Living in different countries has allowed me to develop my intercultural communication skills, experience different cultures and to be aware of my cultural luggage and how it shapes my analysis."

Zeynep Erdal