On Friday, 19 October, the United Nations University celebrated the graduation of 56 participants of the Autumn 2012 session of its UNU Intensive Core Courses (UNU-IC), which are offered by the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP).
The credited UNU-IC programme runs for six weeks; courses may be taken one a stand-alone basis, or as part of the UNU-ISP MSc and PhD programmes.
Participants from 32 countries completed courses in International Peace and Security (IPS), Global Change and Sustainability (GCS), International Cooperation and Development (ICD) and UN System and Global Challenges (UNSGC).
It has become a tradition for the UNU-IC session to conclude with a symposium presented by the students before an invited audience of UN agency heads, diplomats and UNU staff. Students from three of the courses presented brief analyses of topics related to their studies.
The GCS group presentations focused on water issues in North America and the problems faced by small island states as a result of global warming and sea level rises. The from the ICD course then who spoke on gender empowerment and development, problems of globalization, and the possibility of a Marshall Plan-like aid programme for Africa. Finally, the IPS course students made presentations on the issues of state secession, humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty, international terrorism and the international illegal drug trade.
The graduation celebration featured a panel of discussants that included Kazushige Taniguchi of the World Bank, Arman Bidar Bakhtnia from the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific, Georgina Downer of the Australian Embassy, Dr. Claus Auer of the German Embassy, and three representatives from UNU: Profs. Sarath Abayakoon, Yasushi Kikuchi and John Clammer. Dr. Vesselin Popovski of UNU-ISP moderated the discussion.
In the closing ceremony, students received their official certificates of completion.
Prof. Clammer, the event Master of Ceremonies and Deputy Director of UNU-IC, opened the ceremony then called upon Dr. Srikantha Herath, Academic Programme Director of UNU-ISP and GCS lecturer, to address the audience.
Dr. Herath congratulated the students on their hard work and praised their motivated attitude. He also noted that despite the diverse backgrounds and professions of the students, “what is common to all of them is their interest in issues of global concern”. He urged them to continue thinking in a holistic manner and “to combine knowledge and approaches to problem-solving from a variety of disciplines in order to arrive at solutions that are sustainable and also acceptable to all”.
Each of the four course coordinators provided a brief summary of the material covered in the courses before presenting the certificates of completion.
Finally, student representatives from each course came to the podium to make some remarks about their experiences. A student from the Czech Republic, for example, remarked: “In the same way that biodiversity enhances the resilience of natural systems, the diversity of students and cultures enhances the interaction and exchange of ideas. This dynamic allowed us to learn from each other”.