The UNU master’s (MSc) degree programme Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security is jointly offered by the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the University of Bonn, Department of Geography (GIUB). The programme recently celebrated the graduation of 25 students. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the ceremony was virtual, and as the programme’s first graduation event since 2019, the ceremony honoured students from four cohorts.
The ceremony opened with an address from UNU-EHS Director and UNU Vice-Rector in Europe Dr Shen Xiaomeng. “You are very special people who want to put your talents at the service of humanity. As long as you follow your passion and curiosity, doors will open for you,” remarked Dr Shen, whose earlier academic career also brought her to UNU-EHS as a PhD researcher. Dr Shen encouraged graduates to be patient: “I congratulate you all on the paths you have put yourselves on. But remember to take time to enjoy your successes. You don’t have to hurry.”
Following Dr Shen’s address, and a video highlighting the students’ time in the programme, Esther Makabe (2017-2019), Jana Siebeneck (2018-2020), and Joshua Amponsem (2018-2020) gave speeches on behalf of the graduates.
Siebeneck touched on what united them and brought them together: “I think it is not a coincidence that we are studying risk. Probably, everyone who is keen to work on risk actually likes to take risk — at least a little bit. It can mean not taking the usual path that is expected of you.” Makabe spoke of the journey and how it shaped them: “All of the experiences have made this journey worth it. We learned to be brave and tough.” Amponsem offered inspiration for the future: “We are graduates of a programme that is teaching students to contribute to solving big problems, especially on climate change. We now have the opportunity to help make big changes. Looking across this screen, I know we can.”
Commenting on the programme, GIUB Professor Julia Verne emphasised that “while the thesis is certainly the biggest task during a master’s programme, it is also the moment when the different pieces come together — the art and science of geography — when you develop a topic that truly reflects the character and overall aim of our programme.”
For a full overview of the ceremony, visit the UNU-EHS website.