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Students International Studies receive their diploma

Exactly 230 students received their Bachelor’s Diploma of International Studies on 1 September 2017, in front of a large audience of family and friends. With almost 1,000 people present this was the largest graduation ceremony of the programme since its founding in 2012.

Rachel Quenell won the Stork Award for most outstanding student.

Best Student

This year the Golden Stork award for the ‘Most Outstanding Student’, was presented by the Chair of International Studies Joost Augusteijn. He pointed out that the six nominees represent a cross section of all the qualities the programme aims to engender in its students. Qualities such as looking at the world’s problems from various perspectives, both academically as well as culturally. He continued by praising the nominees for their motivation to get the most out of their time at the university. These students did not just stick to their curriculum, but all went “above and beyond”.  Some availed of every opportunity to do extra courses, while others actively contributed to the International Studies community and making the programme a success. Many of them showed a keen motivation to contribute to solving the problems of the world through their internships, voluntary work, or aid projects. There were many outstanding students this year, but the one who embodied these elements best was Rachel Quennell.  She combined excellent marks and extra courses with a large array of activities as student ambassador of International Studies, member of the Programme Board and a lasting effort to improve the lives of LGTBI people. All this was done with enormous energy and positivism.

Best thesis

The Golden Stork Award for the ‘Best Thesis’, was received by Verena Ulrich.  She wrote her bachelor thesis on the integration of immigrants of all backgrounds and positions in Austrian society. In her thesis she successfully manages a complex multidisciplinary research project on a burning current-day topic, showing exceptional awareness and subtlety in how each discipline is applied to real-life circumstances, and, on top of that, incorporating unique primary data collected from migrants themselves, a perspective often forgotten. She ultimately shows that a negative perception among the population: an anti-Muslim ideology in politics and a restrictive legal framework has hampered integration. She also uncovered that most migrants nevertheless do not experience discrimination. Whether they do is dependent on the individual and his or her previous experience, their expectations and their social network. Politics can actually positively stimulate integration by providing opportunities for positive interaction through changes in laws and political discourse.

Alumna Ruth Marie Henckes

Alumna and winner of the most outstanding student award of last year Ruth-Marie Henckes spoke about hope. After you finished the programme having studied all of the world's problems for 3 years, she argued, you can feel powerless and desperate finding a way to solve them. But you soon realise that the most powerful thing you can do is being hopeful. You don't need to do a big thing to change the world. By simply spreading hope, all of your actions will contribute to creating a better world. She said:

"It takes courage and strength to have hope. I see hope as a flame that burns so painfully but spreads so easily as well, if you’re strong and courageous enough to bear the pain. Now that you’ve graduated, you don’t need to solve all of the world’s problems on your own overnight. But as long as you spread your flame of hope to the people you love, the stranger on the bus, the cynical professor in the hallway, your actions, insignificant as they are in themselves, will add up to all the other good hopeful actions, and eventually these will accumulate into incremental global change for the better"

Commencement Speech: Prof. dr. Jan Rood

Jan Rood, former professor in European integration from a global perspective at Leiden University, gave the Commencement speech entitled “Managing the global system in times of multipolarity”. He spoke about how the world is moving towards a situation in which there are a number of great powers, in particular the United States, China, Russia and the European Union. “The international community’s capacity for global management will increasingly depend on good relations between these powers, but there is also a growing risk of frictions and tensions between them”. He analysed to what extent the global system is now dominated by conflict between the great powers, or whether we see a mix of conflict and cooperation. He concluded the commencement speech by questioning what this means for the study of the global system. 

About International Studies

International Studies is a bachelor programme that was founded in 2012. The programme offers students the opportunity to study the issues and effects of globalisation by focusing on one of eight world regions.  Students develop expertise ranging from proficiency in one of the chosen region’s languages to an in-depth understanding of its culture, history, politics and economy. International Studies is a bachelor programme of the Faculty of Humanities, and has a high number of International students; about 50% of the students in this programme are from abroad.