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Hertie School celebrates eleventh graduating class

CEU President Michael Ignatieff delivers commencement speech, “Our freedom depends on the health of democratic institutions.”

Watch Michael Ignatieff's commencement address here. Scroll down for video of the student speakers and the full graduation ceremony.

Berlin, 2 June 2017 – The Hertie School is celebrating the eleventh graduating class of its Master of Public Policy and its first graduating class of its Master of International Affairs. 171 students from 39 nations receive their diplomas during a ceremony in Konzerthaus Berlin today (2 June). Seven graduates will receive a doctorate.

Helmut K. Anheier, President of the Hertie School, opens the event with nearly 800 guests in attendance. The keynote address is given by Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of Central European University (CEU). Ignatieff’s remarks focus on challenges to academic freedom. “The subject is very special to us in light of the events in Hungary, and we are very happy to welcome Michael Ignatieff to the Hertie School,” says President Anheier.

Helmut K. Anheier and Michael Ignatieff
Helmut K. Anheier
Michael Ignatieff
Michaela Kreyenfeld
Helmut K. Anheier, Michaela Kreyenfeld and the PhD Graduates in attendance: Arndt Leininger, Maurits Meijers, Anita Tiefensee and Armin von Schiller
The student speakers: Raju Adhikari and Colette Beukman
Mark Hallerberg

“Our freedom depends on the health of democratic institutions. When democracies are weak, when majoritarian populists erode checks and balances, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary, universities are especially vulnerable. That is what has happened in Hungary,” says Ignatieff in his speech. “To survive, universities need to do whatever they can to strengthen the democratic institutions that protect them and they must seek and earn the solidarity of the societies they serve. It is the ultimate guarantee of their freedom.”

Ignatieff also appeals to the scientific community to be aware of their responsibility: “To ensure that our doors are always open, that we communicate our research in an accessible fashion, and that we do everything to remove barriers that exclude our fellow citizens from the chance to learn with us.”  At the same time, populist politicians who reject scientific expertise “ … are bound to find themselves fumbling for the light switch when they come into power.”

A transcript of Ignatieff's keynote address and press photo can be found here.

Raju Adhikari (MPP Class of 2017) and Colette Beukman (MIA Class of 2017) address their fellow Hertie School graduates.
Full graduation ceremony