Recap: Look back at the 2020/2021 graduation

Dick de Jager

We recently celebrated the graduation of the 2020/2021 MA in Development Studies students in a closed ceremony.

Rector, Inge Hutter and the Deputy Rector of Educational Affairs, Karin Arts, pen a special letter to the graduates as they crossover into their next phase as ISS alumni.

Our 2020/2021 graduation snapshot

95 graduates | 34 countries represented | 14,000+ alumni

On Friday, 17 December 2021, most of you were awarded your MA degree in Development Studies. Congratulations once more! For those of you who are still working on finalizing the last assignment(s), we wish you all the best in finishing up smoothly.

You have been a special batch. While COVID took your peers before you entirely by surprise about six months after they arrived in The Hague, for you, COVID was a given when you started your studies. At the start of your academic year, several of you shared with us that you had deliberately decided to come to ISS to study in times of a pandemic because you wanted to turn this COVID year into something productive and exciting. And so you did!

You were also the first generation of ISS MA students who essentially had to do their study programme online. You turned into pioneers in online learning. ISS staff did their very best to make the journey as rewarding as possible under the circumstances. Your feedback in the process was an excellent help for strengthening our online teaching and student care along the way. Based on these experiences, some of our teachers are now more deeply involved in developing new online courses. Such courses are likely to be a vital part of ISS's (no doubt hybrid) future. So, thank you for pioneering with us and helping us embark on a new path towards positive change.

Watch our recap

ISS Graduation Recap 2020/2021

In our view, you have achieved MUCH more than a degree or a diploma. You have shown extraordinary motivation, resilience, and perseverance. You had to develop and use new qualities to study successfully in times of a pandemic while also staying in touch with home, extending care to fellow students, others in need, and yourself, and being part of the ISS community. Your ability to navigate all of this successfully is something to be proud of and something that adds tremendous value to your MA degree. In an ISS podcast produced earlier this year, some of you spoke about these matters. When asked to characterize what it was like to study in Corona times, one of you said, 'strange, lucky, hope[ful]'. Another student shared how he experienced 'isolation to transnational solidarity'. When discussing how students coped, one of you stated that students were 'adaptable, enterprising, and [indeed] showed solidarity'. Another student shared that she 'found new ways of kinship'.

In other words, you had a rough ride during your stay at ISS. Still, overall, you are likely to have come out stronger, now with a formal MA qualification and having confronted and shared both difficult experiences and good memories with others during a unique time. We hope these achievements will serve you well in work and life after ISS.

You will now leave the ISS and, while some of you will stay in The Hague for some time still, most of you will return home. We wish you safe travels, a happy reunion with your families and friends, and all the best in life and work after ISS. After some time, you might experience that you changed during your time in the Netherlands, and others did not. You might also wonder how you can apply or implement what you learned. Please stay in touch to reflect with each other and with ISS as part of our global alumni network. 

We are looking forward to hearing from you and wish you all the very best!

Professor Inge Hutter, ISS Rector & Professor Karin Arts, ISS Deputy Rector of Educational Affairs

Scenes from the 2020/2021 ceremony

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