On Monday, 10 September, the United Nations University held a ceremony at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo to mark the opening of the autumn 2012 session of the UNU Intensive Core Courses (UNU-IC).
The ceremony welcomed a total of 57 participants from 32 countries, including 16 new students to the MSc in Sustainability, Development and Peace programme at the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) and 6 students to the MSc in Environmental Governance programme at the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS). A special feature of the day was the welcoming of UNU’s first group of three doctoral students into the new PhD in Sustainability Science programme offered by UNU-ISP.
The ceremony was opened by UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder, who welcomed the new students and explained the genesis of the graduate degree programmes at UNU. He then spoke about the role of UNU in training a cadre of well-educated professionals who, upon returning to their home countries, can make significant contributions in core areas of concern to the UN. The Rector shared his hopes that, “Within the next decade, [we] will be able to see … at least one UNU graduate in each UN and international organization, as well as in government service within each of the UN’s Member States”.
UNU Vice-Rectors Kazuhiko Takeuchi and Govindan Parayil then introduced the two institutes that they, respectively, direct: UNU-ISP (Tokyo) and UNU-IAS (Yokohama).
Congratulatory addresses were delivered by Ambassador William G.M. Brandful, Republic of Ghana; Masayuki Shibata, Director-General of Cultural Affairs, Foreign Ministry of Japan; and Yoshihisa Nagayama, Director of the International Affairs Division, Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Master of Ceremonies Prof. John Clammer warmly thanked these three special speakers, pointing out how much UNU depends on the cooperation and goodwill of the diplomatic corps in Japan and the two ministries.
The focus of the ceremony then shifted to the academic programmes. Dr. Srikantha Herath, Academic Programme Director, introduced the UNU-ISP MSc and PhD programmes while Dr. Jose Puppim de Oliveira, Assistant Director of UNU-IAS, introduced the UNU-IAS MSc programme. Dr. Vesselin Popovski, Head of the Peace and Security Section of UNU-ISP, then introduced the UNU-IC.
The ceremony concluded with thanks to the speakers, to the Mayor and International Friendship Association of Kunitachi City (for once again hosting the annual homestay programme), to the UNU Women’s Association (for arranging a day trip to Kamakura for all students), and to the Japan Foundation for the UNU (for hosting an evening of Kabuki at the National Theatre during the course).
The meeting ended with a group photograph, followed by a buffet lunch.