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Researcher Marte Luesink: ‘I’ve always been interested in crisis situations.’

Alumna Marte Luesink took both a bachelor’s in International Studies and a master’s in International Politics at Leiden University. Very quickly after graduating she was offered a job as researcher at the Leiden Institute of Political Science.

Crisis management

As a researcher, Marte’s field of work is political science, with a specific focus on crisis management. The key theme in her work is the role of government and experts in times of crisis. She has contributed to a new book by Arjen Boin on the corona crisis, Creeping crises, and also to his article Learning from the COVID-19 crisis: an initial analysis of national responses. Marte: ‘I helped write a chapter that compared the national response of the Dutch government to the corona crisis with the response of the Swedish government. I worked on this with a colleague in Sweden.’ Marte is currently involved in new research on the second wave of the corona crisis.

Marte Luesink

Working for the University

Marte was offered this job shortly after graduating. During her master’s she took the crisis management specialism taught by Boin, which made her even more interested in crisis situations. Shortly after this she received a mail from Boin. ‘He was looking for people who could help with the ‘Creeping crisis’ research project, which was a joint project with a university in Sweden. I applied and that’s how I started working for the University,’ Marte explains.

Marte has always been interested in crisis situations, and it was the area she focused on in her bachelor’s in International Studies. ‘During my bachelor’s, I concentrated on the South American region, because there are many conflicts at play in society there. It’s not an emergency situation like the corona crisis, but it is a crisis among the population because of the enormous gap between the people and politics.’ These kinds of everyday conflicts have always attracted Marte’s interest.

Cultural differences

During her bachelor’s in International Studies Marte learned how important the role of culture is during a crisis, as the current crisis shows. ‘From the cultural perspective, you see how different social groups respond to an emergency, how people in Sweden reacted and people in the Netherlands.’ Her two study programmes were also useful for building a good network. ‘You come into contact with lots of different people, who all come from very diverse backgrounds. You work together, drink coffee together and discuss the issues together. It’s really good to hear other people’s perspectives.’

Source of network

Marte’s message to students who are close to graduating is that it is really important to build up a network. ‘Teachers and staff within the University are important for your network.’ Marte takes the view that it’s not just a matter of following a study programme and then looking for work that matches what you’ve learned from the programme. ‘There are so many opportunities within the University. That’s what I found, so why shouldn’t it be the same for you?’

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