Starting off at the Consortium

This summer I’m interning at the Umass Boston Consortium on Gender Security and Human Rights. There’s a lot to unpack on this long title alone and, as an intern, the discoveries haven’t stop after fully understanding what the Consortium does or how it operates. As a member of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, the Consortium is devoted to building knowledge about gender and security to inform policy-makers and practitioners all around the world, as well as to develop feminist perspectives on human rights and peace-building. It even helped passed the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark resolution that finally acknowledged the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflict. As an International and Global Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies double major, I am so excited about this organization’s mission and I don’t think I could have found something more suitable for my interests!

The Consortium’s ambitious mission comes along with only 3 paid staff members and only one small office, but over 20 summer interns from a variety of backgrounds, all sharing an interest in international development and gender analysis. With this much work to be done and the exciting combination of people’s strengths and backgrounds, we started the week off learning about the importance of working as a team. At the Consortium, this often means that while smaller groups may be working on specific projects, a variety of softwares and communication tools are used to maintain a cohesive team that moves forward as a whole in achieving its goals.

After having learned a whole lot about research softwares such as Zotero, project management softwares such as Smartsheet, and everything about the Consortium’s formatting conventions (as well as almost 30 people’s names!), I am very excited to start working on my projects. I am currently in the Consortium’s website development team, and we’ve been working on enhancing the research hub that the Consortium makes available to practitioners that don’t have access to academic databases. It’s been really interesting looking through different databases such as JSTOR and World Cat and picking out what we think would be interesting and valuable for the Consortium’s own search tool. I can’t wait to see it all come together and to test our new advanced search tool for myself!

One of my favorite things about the Consortium is the staff’s concern with making the intern’s experience as enriching and educational as possible. The Director has even taken extra time to assign me to a specific research topic because she wants to make absolute sure that my work will put me ahead of the game when I start writing a senior thesis. I feel so lucky to be working with people who never fail to take into consideration our needs as interns and college students. Right now, my potential research topics will probably be in the area of feminist critiques of human rights discourses, gender mainstreaming in international organizations or education, gender and conflict. I can’t wait to find out exactly what it will be and report back!


In the meantime, here are some pictures of my past few days at the Consortium:



I’m very lucky to have other fellow Brandeis students, Emily and Iris, working with me at the Consortium every day!



This is the seating-area of the Umass Boston Campus Center. The interns often get together here for lunch breaks when it’s too hot to go out in the lawn.

-Karen Lengler, ’15


This is how the Consortium’s home page currently looks like. It’s a huge improvement from what the Consortium had previously and I’m excited to make it even better with the website development team!