Originally from Gothenburg, Sweden, Elin Torell, PhD ’03, planned to be in the United States for one year when she began scholarship work at the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) studying the history of water quality and fisheries management of Narragansett Bay. AUNE’s approach allowed me to be part of a challenging PhD program while continuing to do fieldwork through CRC.
Elin became interested in doctoral work while studying natural resource management issues during her master’s program in Human and Economic Geography at the University of Gothenburg. As research for her dissertation, for four years Elin studied the learning strategies of two coastal management initiatives in Tanzania. Although I traveled a lot during my time as a PhD student, I never felt disconnected from Antioch because so much of our work was presented and discussed online.
Since graduating, Elin has given birth to three children, a son, and twin daughters. She will return to the University of Rhode Island in July to manage a coastal program in Tanzania, and monitor and evaluate another project in Tanzania, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. We’re developing sustainable livelihoods that are combined with environmental management efforts. In Tanzania, we work with women on Zanzibar who have been collecting bivalves and selling the meat, depleting the stock. We are helping them do other things, like using the shells to make jewelry and cultivating pearls, so they don’t have to pick as many bivalves to make money. Livelihood programs to date are very seldom successful, so it’s important to evaluate and monitor them. Sometimes they fail because the environmental managers aren’t livelihood experts.
She credits the design of Antioch’s program for keeping her career on track. I like that my résumé can show that I have ten years of experience working there without having to subtract the time that I was in school. And I was lucky because my graduate work was complementary to my work at CRC, she said.