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What are some good choices for majors in college if I want to make an impact in my lifetime regarding he many social issues at the forefront in our society today, mainly human sex trafficking and the issue surrounding global internal displacement ?

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I want my time in school to be spent learning how l can make a difference and have an impact in the world I live in. I want to live my life knowing I am helping to make the world a better place.
#social-justice #social-activism #political-science #sociology

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Kelci’s Answer

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Hi Greta! Have you started looking into any programs?


A good place to start would be to look at International Studies or International Relations degrees. At many universities, you can choose sub-specialties within that major that focus on your specific interests and help you start to specialize to your career goals. For example, my BA in International Studies at Utah State University allowed me to select a focus between: World Economy & Development, Peace & Security, Global Environment & Natural Resources, or Peoples & Nations (http://catalog.usu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=12&poid=9558). Other universities might offer different tracks that cater exactly to your interests. Another option for specializing during university - and an option I highly recommend - is doing an internship within your desired field, or a study abroad at a university with courses in your degree. I would also recommend starting with an internship after graduating (if you don't do one during your studies) in order to immediately gain job experience in your field - the UN offers many internships that might be interesting to you (https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SJ&exp=INT&level=0&location=All&occup=0&department=All&bydate=0&occnet=0_). Volunteering with the Peace Corps also would help you gain experience and start to specialize, if you have any interest in that option (https://www.peacecorps.gov/).


I would recommend not specializing too much for your Bachelor's, as this will give you the flexibility to start to gain career experience within the international issues field even if you don't start with sex trafficking or displacement. Job experience in the field will be an asset for you even if you start by working on related issues outside of your specific interests. I would advise to start with an International Studies, International Relations, Human Rights, or to be even more general, maybe even a Political Studies degree. If a Master's degree is on the table for you, you can go back and specialize then once you've explored and solidified your interests, or you can simply start to specialize in your field when you start working.


One last comment would be that if you're really interested in displacement issues, a political studies or pre-law degree might be useful to you. There is a lot of legal work that can be done for immigrants, refugees, etc. Human rights law would also be a good way for you to advocate for the groups of people you're interested in working with. There is a lot of work that can be done for social issues and human rights from the policy and legal fields, so maybe just take a moment to explore whether you're interested in this application or whether you'd rather stick with the broader international studies degree and focus specifically on the issues you mentioned.


Hope this helps!

Kelci recommends the following next steps:

  • Explore interest level in policy or legal sphere
  • Research international studies or international relations degrees
  • Find programs with sub-specialties of interest
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heather’s Answer

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That sounds like a great goal! I'm a big believer that you can study what most interests you and then apply it for social good. I worked at a nonprofit that made software to protect children who were victims of child abuse and neglect..and the staff there had all sorts of talents and backgrounds (engineers, data scientists, trainers, project managers, designers, lawyers, etc.)...but they were all using their talents to support our mission of achieving better outcomes for children who were abused and neglected. They didn't have to be experts in child welfare when they started...they had to be experts in their chosen field. So, I would not limit yourself to only those majors that seem to have a direct relationship with the cause you care about (public policy, international relations, nonprofit management, political science). I would study something you find really interesting and then apply it to the causes you care about. For example, I was an English and sociology major and have always worked in public service organizations. Hope that is helpful!

heather recommends the following next steps:

  • If you remain interested in the field you described, you might want to consider looking at the websites for International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, Safe Horizon, Polaris Project to see what kind of jobs they post for.
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