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International Studies students receive their diploma

325 students received their Bachelor’s Diploma of International Studies on 30 August 2019. The students received their diplomas in the historic Pieterskerk in Leiden, in front of a large audience of family and friends. With more than 1100 people present, including 325 graduates, this was the largest graduation ceremony of the programme since its founding in 2012.

Best Student

The Golden Stork award for the ‘Most Outstanding Student’, was presented by the dean of the faculty, Prof. Mark Rutgers. The dean pointed out that student’s nominated many of their peers for varying reasons, such as being an exemplary student, being passionate about their specialization, while also being active in the student body, the study association BASIS and participating in all kinds of events, both academic and others with societal relevance. All these factors weigh in with the final decision made by the programme. The most outstanding student is not just a student who strove to get the best out of him or herself in an academic sense, but someone who also has been important to fellow students, and was active both within and outside of the programme. In short someone who showed the true International Studies spirit.

After a process of consultation with students, study advisors and tutors the programme decided that two of the nominees embodied these elements best: Imogen Stevens and Karen Chica Gomez. They are both outstanding students who engaged seriously with their studies, and were also very active in other ways. Imogen was part of the Programme Board and of the Eurasian committee of BASIS, while Karen put a lot of effort in organizing and participating in Model United Nations events and contributed to projects for children in developing countries. So there were two awardees this year. The Chair of the programme, Dr. Joost Augusteijn, added that there were many ways to stand out and that in a sense all students present were outstanding, as everyone had invested heavily in getting to where they were, and all have had to overcome some more or less serious obstacles in the process.

Best thesis

The Golden Stork Award for the ‘Best Thesis’, was awarded to Dário Kuteev Moreira for his thesis Exploring a Relational Methodology: An Empirical Application of Qin Yaqing’s Relationality Theory to the Sino-Filipino Dispute in the South China Sea.

 The Award was presented by the chair of Board of Examiners of the BA International Studies, dr. Max Bader. He noted that the jury in its deliberations in particular focused on the degree to which the theses capture the BA International Studies ‘philosophy’, including multidisciplinary, awareness of the historical, cultural, political and economic context of case studies, and connecting the local and national level with the international and global level.

Alumnus Karim Schiek

Alumnus and winner of last year’s Most Outstanding Student award, Karim Schiek, gave a talk entitled: From Individual Experience to Collective Responsibility. In it he suggested that the first years of University are mostly about individual experiences: making friends, going to ‘borrels’, international Studies parties and of course, most importantly, about expanding ones intellectual horizon through being exposed to lots of new ideas and information. All of these things, he argued, are vital components of students’ individual personal development, but when growing older, life should be about more than that. We live in uncertain times facing many challenges: The rise of populism, climate change, the decline of democracy, just to name a few. International Studies has equipped its students with a broad toolkit to take up our collective responsibility and tackle today’s challenges. That does not mean everyone has to become a humanitarian worker. On the contrary, he argued, it is important that we have people in every branch of every sector that understand the complexity and interconnectivity of today’s world in order to build a better future for everyone. 

Commencement Speech

María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña, lecturer for the courses Practicing International Studies and Economics Latina America, gave the Commencement speech in which she further developed Karim’s message, presented in the form of a personal message which she summarised as: “I met many of you, our graduating students, during your first week at university. Closing the circle, I am invited to end this journey together. I hope our classes have provided you with the tools to find your own engaged voice. A voice that is never fixed and absolute but ever-evolving in dialogue with a world beyond itself. Now, it is time to go out there and walk the talk. Take the conversation outside the classroom, that is where the real learning begins. Keep your minds and hearts open and curious. Let your voice be a voice of caution. Dare to think and rethink. Contribute to a transformative change rooted in a critical reflection on the systemic aspects that guide our lives. Let your voice be a voice of hope. Imagine and create. Go beyond the boundaries of what has been established and create new visions. This is just the beginning.”

After handing out 325 diploma’s individually, the ceremony was closed with drinks and further celebrations.

About International Studies

International Studies is a BA 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 half of the students in this programme are from abroad.

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