AAU Alumni Spotlight: Knut Skjerve, Advisor at UN Association of Norway
A 2018 graduate of AAU’s Masters of International Relations & Diplomacy program and current Advisor at the United Nations Association of Norway, meet Knut Marius Uddu Skjerve.
Knut is now back in his homeland of Norway, living in the Arctic capital of Tromsø. During his studies, he interned at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Seoul for seven months and has also worked with the Norwegian Seafood Council. He has since returned to working within the field of his studies, having secured a job at the UN Association of Norway, where he spends his days giving lectures and doing reports on the UN’s work to the general public in Norway.
Our Alumni and Career Specialist, Elizabeth Nováček asked Knut Marius to reflect on his #AAUPrague experience and share some advice for future graduates.
What was your favorite class/teacher at AAU?
I do not accept the premise of the question, but will instead point to several classes I had which made a deep-seated impact on my development. I can’t touch on my AAU experience without bringing up prof. Zuzana Fellegi. She is the perfect lecturer – intelligent, ambitious, fair, supportive and easy to understand. Her expectations were high in class, but so were her rewards if you were willing to work hard and follow her instructions. And her pedagogical skills are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before or since. Her International Organizations-class should be compulsory for all students in all faculties – it is a large part of the reason why I got the job I have now at the UN Association.
Also David Lipka’s IPE (International Political Economy) was a phenomenal experience. His classes were characterized by a brutal, yet cool inhibition of challenging dogmas, just to make us take a step back and question everything we thought we knew. Is child labour actually beneficial to societal development? Maybe wearing seat belts endangers your health more than it protects it? His laid-back, yet unquestioning authority in the classroom made a lasting impact on me.
What is something you learned outside the classroom at AAU?
I learned that maybe I’m not so Norwegian after all. After making some very close and meaningful friendships in Prague, I think I’ve realized that I’m more international than I am Norwegian. Some of the truest friendships I have ever had I made while living in Holešovice with people from all over the world.
If you had the opportunity to give a TED talk, what would you speak about?
Co-living and why it should be encouraged throughout life, and not just when you are a student. The world is becoming increasingly urbanized, and with an ever-growing global population the negative consequences are more and more obvious; housing prices increase, economic inequality increases, cities grow incessantly horizontally with greater strain on public transport and loner commuting hours for those that work in the city center but can’t afford to live there. Current legislation in Western countries reward marriage between two parties and investing in property, meaning that housing, heating, gas and all other commodities are being used inefficiently. What if people had an incentive for living together without being married? Imagine how much people would save, and how much we as a society could save, by having people share housing? If two couples move in together, they could suddenly cut their electricity bill in half, heating, rent for the apartment. You can reduce overproduction by buying one thing instead of two, like trash cans or frying pans. You could save time by dividing the homely chores between 4 instead of 2. And there’s less strain on the housing market by using the housing that already exists more efficiently. We need an update of the tax code and other legislation such as banks’ loaning policies so that people would be incentivized to live together.
Knowing what you know now, what would you advise yourself when you were just graduating from AAU?
I would prefer to give myself advice just as I was starting my masters: enjoy university life more. It is a precious, but short time that you will not get the chance to do again. Go out, even though you’re tired. Give your classmate a call, even though you’re stressed out about some term paper. Those are the things that stay with you when you’ve graduated.
To learn more about AAU’s M.A. in International Relations and Diplomacy please visit: www.aauni.edu/international-relations or email email@example.com.