More than 25 students, representing 12 nations, have become the first graduates of the Joint Master’s Programme in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security, offered by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in partnership with the Geographical Institute of the University of Bonn.
In the presence of their families, as well as representatives of both institutions and from the media, the graduates received their certificates from Professor Dr. Julia Verne of the Geographical Institute at the University of Bonn, and the UNU-EHS section head Professor Dr. Joerg Szarzynski and Professor Dr. Klaus Greve, also from the University of Bonn – both credited with being the “true parents” of the course, having been instrumental in its foundation and subsequent implementation.
Professor Dr. Jakob Rhyner, Director of UNU-EHS and Vice-Rector for United Nations University in Europe, addressed the graduates and their families through a video message, heralding the groundbreaking nature of the MSc. Programme.
“In 2013, after a long period of intense preparations and discussions, we were able to start the Joint Master’s Programme in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security,” he said.
“We wanted to cross borders with this course. Borders of many kinds – between countries, and between the United Nations and academia. And to cross borders, you need people. Our graduates are these people. The challenges humankind will face in the future, and also the chances we have to cope with these challenges will make it necessary to cross borders again and again and again. And, I don’t want to give our graduates orders for their careers, but they might want to remember that they started off by crossing borders. Congratulations and thank you.”
The presentation of the degree certificates brings to an end three semesters of intense study, during which the students benefitted from a range of both theoretical and practical modules, followed by a semester-long internship and finally the submission of a Master’s thesis.
As well as recognising the achievements of the individual students themselves, the graduation ceremony also served as a celebration of the pioneering academic programme: Introduced in 2013, the joint MSc. is the first instance of a university department working in partnership with an international institution to offer a higher level degree with a foundation in international law.
Since its launch, around 120 students from 26 different countries have been accepted onto the Master’s course. With their MSc. certificates, in addition to the experience gained while interning within a UN agency or other international institution, this first batch of graduates will be equipped to pursue a variety of career paths, including within the fields of academia, policymaking or as practitioners.
Applications for the Joint Master’s Programme in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security will open later in the year and will be announced on the UNU-EHS website, as well as through the UNU-EHS social media channels.