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Opening Ceremony held for Autumn 2013 Intensive Core Courses


Contact: Wilma James,

The opening ceremony for the 2013 autumn session of the UNU Intensive Core (IC) Courses took place on 9 September at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. These courses are held for six weeks each year, providing stand-alone opportunities for professionals and for postgraduate students from other institutions, while also serving as the core component of UNU-ISP’s master’s and doctoral programmes.

Prof. John Clammer, as master of ceremonies, gave a warm welcome to the registered students, and introduced UNU Rector Dr. David Malone, who welcomed the students and delivered introductory remarks. Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (Senior Vice-Rector, UNU and Director, UNU-ISP) greeted the students and presented the two lecturers of the event.

Dr. David Malone, UNU Rector. Photo: UNU-ISP

Prof. Akihiko Tanaka (President, Japan International Cooperation Agency) delivered the commencement lecture for the postgraduate programme. He focused on the concept of change, highlighting the economic power shift towards the global South, and especially towards Asia with the “reemergence” of China as a great power. However, it was noted by Prof. Tanaka that unfortunately this growth in the global South was not evenly distributed, with many people still suffering from poverty and social, economic and development challenges. He observed that the great promise of the Millennium Development Goals had unfortunately not been realized in some areas, due to the environment and development elements being pursued separately. This reflected the work of the separate "tribes" of environment, development and peace studies—a fragmented approach which cannot effectively solve these complex global problems.

Participants in the opening ceremony. Photo: UNU-ISP

Prof. Tanaka paid tribute to the attempts of UNU-ISP to bring together these subjects through the MSc in Sustainability, Development and Peace degree programme, commenting that this was a wonderful opportunity for the students of the course to draw upon their diverse backgrounds. He ended his address by challenging the students to use interdisciplinary methods to work towards comprehensive solutions to global challenges.

H. E. Dr. Alvaro Cedeno Mollinari (Ambassador of Costa Rica in Japan) then delivered the opening lecture. His speech took a personal tone, inviting students to assume responsibility for current world issues and the challenges that sustainable development poses to humankind. He discussed change, emphasizing that creativity can create positive transformations, and referred to  “bio-literacy”—learning how to maintain an ethical and responsible relationship with the environment—as the only possible way to achieve a truly sustainable future.  He mentioned that, in addition to what students learn in the programme, they should benefit from experiencing Japanese culture, which he considers to be an example of civility and values, and a good role model for global citizenship. He invited students to be inspired and creative.

Next, Mr. Koichi Mizushima (Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy General Director, Press and Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) and Mr. Yoshihisa Nagayama (Director, International Affairs Division, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan) gave congratulatory remarks.

Dr. Srikantha Herath (Academic Programme Director and Senior Academic Programme Officer, UNU-ISP) gave a brief introduction of UNU and the UNU-ISP postgraduate programmes. He highlighted the special position the UNU holds as both a UN agency and a university. He emphasized that although UNU has its headquarters in Tokyo, its global network of institutes and programmes in 13 countries provide a wide range of expertise on many different global issues and research areas. Dr. Herath went on to describe the details of the MSc and PhD degrees offered by UNU-ISP. He highlighted their interdisciplinary approach, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds from across the world. He noted the high competition for places, and that for successful candidates there would be opportunities to work with other UNU institutes as well as 26 universities in the UN-CECAR network, of which UNU is a member.

Dr. Vesselin Popovski (Head, Peace and Security Section and Senior Academic Programme Officer, UNU-ISP), was the final speaker, providing a brief introduction to the faculty members and the structure of the IC Courses.

The event concluded with a group photograph and a reception.