International Studies students receive their diploma
On 2 September 2022, 300 students received their Bachelor Diploma of International Studies. The students were awarded their diplomas in the historic Pieterskerk in Leiden, in front of a large audience of family and friends. With about 1000 people present, including the graduates, the International Studies Graduation Ceremony went ‘back to normal’ after two years of Corona restrictions.
Back to normal
During the Covid pandemic, the International Studies programme managed to organise the ceremony twice. The social distancing requirements made it impossible to invite guests. This year, however, the graduates brought with them two of their loved ones to celebrate their achievements.
After the impressive entrance of the lecturers in the academic procession, followed by the graduates, the awarding of the diplomas started with students with the specialisations in the regions Africa, East Asia, and Europe.
Then it was time for alumna and former student member of the Programme Board Niandong (Mimi) Hu, to give this year’s Alumni Speech. She started with reminiscing her own graduation: 'We were all about to head out in different directions to continue our paths. But we had one thing in common: excellent academic training, a multidisciplinary toolbox, expertise in a region and an incredible global network'.
Her advice for the current generation of students is to think well about what to do with their experience. And whatever you do, 'do so with passion and with your heart […] make space for your instinct to guide you one step at a time as you pursue what you love and strive to have your desired impact.'
With this advice still resounding, the awarding of the diplomas continued with students who specialised in the regions Latin America, Middle East, North America, Russia & Eurasia, and South & Southeast Asia.
After all graduates received their diploma, the Golden Stork Award for ‘Best Thesis’ was awarded to Hester Luinenburg for her thesis Green Bond Market Transitions: A Comparative Study of the European Union and China. The Award was presented by the chair of the Board of Examiners, dr. Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues. She noted that 'the jury in its deliberations in particular focused on the degree to which the theses capture the BA International Studies ‘philosophy’, namely its multidisciplinary approach rooted in the conviction that contemporary topical issues can only be fully understood at the intersection of their historical, cultural, political and economic contexts as well as by connecting the local and national level with the international and global level.' Hester's thesis stood out for its topical relevance and strong methodological and theoretical grounding of her multilevel interregional comparative analysis.
At the end of the ceremony, the new Chair of International Studies, Prof. dr. Isabelle Duyvesteyn, gave the commencement speech, in which she further developed the message from the Alumni Speech: 'The knowledge you have acquired will now be put to use. What does all this serve? Our educational systems have been very good at leading you to gain knowledge but not so much at guiding you to make choices what to do with that knowledge. We are in essence agnostic about human purpose.' She continued to explain that knowledge of other regions and cultures has had a contentious past, this is a history that the field of International Studies has to deal with. Why this emphasis on these challenging aspects on such a festive day? Prof. Duyvesteyn concluded: 'I would like to send you off with an important message; your knowledge is valuable, but it needs to be used wisely and to good effect and you need to be aware of your responsibilities.'
After the commencement speech the ceremony was officially closed by programme manager dr. Jaap Kamphuis. While enjoying some festive drinks, the celebrations continued informally.