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International Masters of Science: 26 Graduates From Twelve Countries


BONN. The degree course „Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security“ is an international academic cooperation of the United Nations University and the University Bonn.

The first alumni of a unique pioneer project have now received their „Master of Science (M. Sc.)“ certificates during a graduation ceremony of the Joint Masters Course on the UN campus last Friday. The degree course „Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security“  is an international academic cooperation of the United Nations University and the University Bonn. A project that began in 2013, and which is the first of its kind.

„The course takes place at both universities simultaneously“, explained Professor Klaus Greve of the Geographical Institute at the Bonn University. Normally, a degree course with the addendum „joint“ ties two universities at two different locations together. This is different. „Professors from both houses are involved.

The courses takes place more in the Geographical Institute than at our premises“, said Professor Joerg Szarzynski of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University (UNU-EHS). Together with Professor Greve he initiated the program in 2009. During the graduation ceremony, they were thus introduced as the „parents of the program“. „We did not want to be just a research institute anymore“, explains Joerg Szarzynski to the international graduates and their families. „After years of planning and structuring, this year is finally a sign that our idea is working.

People finished the course“, he added happily. The English-language degree course takes two years and comprises three academic semesters and one during which the students do an internship in a UN institution or another international organization. Afterwards the students write a master thesis. The keyword is internationality: The program is designed to overcome borders. Many students are from Ghana, Cameroon, the USA or Australia. „About two thirds of the students are international, one third is from Germany“, estimates Professor Julia Verne, also from the Geographical Institute at the Bonn University.

With 500 applicants, the masters course is very popular, but only very few are chosen to take part. „Currently, we have 98 students in four years and 24 new students confirmed to start in October. From the start we had a high number of applicants“, said Szarzynski. A cooperation with the German Academic Exchange program (DAAD), that facilitates grants for six to eight students increased the number of applicants as well. There is a good reason for only taking 24 students out of 500 applicants: „We set value on being interactive and teaching in small groups“, said Szarzynski.

An expansion of the number of places is not envisaged. „If something gets expanded, it will be the topics,“ said Greve. After the 26 graduates received their certificates from Professor Verne, a special thank you was given to Karen Hattenbach from the UNU-EHS, who coordinated the course as a link between the institutions and as a „mother to all“.  Afterwards, there was a party at the restaurant of the UN building Langer Eugen. And of course, the obligatory hat throwing wasn’t missing.

(Original text: Jana Fahl; Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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