Leiden University: Publishing a book as an alternative to an internship

Many students on the Master’s programme in International Relations and Diplomacy had their internship cancelled last year because of the pandemic. As an alternative, together with Professor of International Relations Madeleine Hosli, they wrote a book: The Future of Multilateralism.

For students on the Master’s programme in International Relations and Diplomacy, the internship is the climax of their studies. After years of hard work, they can finally bring theory into practice. These experiences, which usually take place abroad, are extremely valuable and for many students they act as a springboard to their future career.

No internships
Sonja Niedecken (25), for example, was supposed to complete an internship in Geneva last year. This work placement at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs was signed and sealed. ‘Three days before I was due to start,’ says Sonja, ‘I heard that everything was cancelled because of the pandemic.’ And she was not the only one to get bad news.

‘I could feel their pain, and wanted to do something to help.’

‘The students were hugely disappointed about all these cancelled internships,’ says Hosli. ‘I could feel their pain, and wanted to do something to help.’ Instead of an internship, Hosli therefore gave students the assignment of publishing a book. This was at least some compensation for what they were missing.

A success after all
The students had to maintain contact with potential publishers and do all the editing work themselves. ‘Publishing a book is quite a daunting task. It was challenging and ultimately a valuable experience,’ says Sonja. ‘Plus, there aren’t many Master’s students who can boast of having a publication to their name.’

Future of international collaboration
For The Future of Multilateralism the students investigated the prospects for international and regional collaboration in light of the current pandemic. Hosli: ‘The book provides a good overview of the perspectives of young academics from around the world on the future of multilateralism and international collaboration.’

The book is due to be published in July by Rowman & Littlefield, an academic publisher in the US. As the cherry on the cake, Director of the UN office in Brussels, Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, wrote the preface.

Near future
Luckily Sonja was able to arrange an internship after all, albeit a year later. This month she is starting at GIZ, a German organisation for international collaboration. Many of Hosli’s students will not be able to do an internship this year either. As an alternative, Hosli and her students are now investigating the international protection of women, children and minorities. It is as yet unclear whether this will also lead to a publication, but they hope it will.

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