Annual Graduation Ceremony with Canadian Ambassador and Democracy Activist Jeremy Kinsman
|Friday, 22 June 2012|
Taking place on June 20, the annual graduation ceremony of the American Graduate School in Paris featured Canadian diplomat and democracy activist Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman as commencement speaker. Commencement exercises were followed by graduation dinner in the French Senate near AGS.
The graduating class was composed of twenty-five students representing eight different national origins: United States, Malaysia, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, Lebanon, Poland, and France. Twenty-one graduates were awarded the degree of Master of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy in partnership with Arcadia University (Philadelphia), and four graduates were awarded the degree of Executive Master of Science in Finance in partnership with Baruch College at CUNY (New York). Some of the International Relations students are also receiving a second degree as part of one of AGS’s dual programs: Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University, or Master’s in Diplomacy and Strategic Negotiation from Université Paris Sud 11.
A Canadian experienced diplomat, Jeremy Kinsman retired in 2006 from a 40-year career in the Canadian foreign service and now practices as a democracy activist, writing, lecturing internationally and collaborating with NGOs. Among other diplomatic assignments, Jeremy Kinsman was Canada’s Ambassador to Russia, High Commissionner to the United Kingdom and Ambassador to the European Union. Today he is a member of the Council for a Community of Democracies (Washington, DC), where he heads the Diplomat’s Handbook on Democracy Development Support project. He also is lead writer for Foreign Affairs at Policy Options magazine and regularly contributes to Canadian and international media, including The International Herald Tribune. On the academic side, Ambassador Kinsman is a Resident International Scholar at UC Berkeley in the US, and a former Diplomat in Residence at the University of Princeton.
In his commencement speech, Ambassador Kinsman talked at length about the values of democracy and the role that AGS students can play in supporting the emergence of new democracies. “We can’t export democracy. It has to emerge from the people in question, each in its own way. (…) Democracy is not a process – an “app” that can be downloaded. It’s about more than elections. It’s about what happens after the elections. Especially about managing pluralism – tribes, religions, sects, regions, winners and losers. People need our help to build the capacity to do that. Not to tell them how WE do things but to support their own learning process.”
Addressing the students, Ambassador Kinsman added: “You have some brand-new and valuable credentials as foreign affairs experts. (…) There are lots of different ways to exercise your knowloedge (in this field) – in business, law, teaching, and public service, as diplomats or with development and humanitarian NGOs. (…) The principles of tolerance and inclusivity are issues you can bring into whatever profession you are following.”
Previous commencement speakers at AGS include French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé, former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, Pulitzer Prize winner Serge Schmemann, and former Lebanese Ambassador to Japan and UNESCO Samira Hanna-El-Daher, and journalist and best-selling author Alan Riding, among others.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Steve Michael, Provost of AGS’s partner institution Arcadia University, through which AGS’s Master in International Relations and Diplomacy is accredited in the US. Steve Michael explained that Arcadia’s expertise in global education has come full circle with AGS’s partnership as it started with a study abroad trip to France over sixty years ago. On behalf of Arcadia’s President Carl Oxholm III, he told the students: “I am proud of the quality the AGS faculty embody, the vision they pursue and the excellence they represent.
In the name of the entire graduating class, Amber Christino announced the class gift to the school - a couch for the student meeting room! - and pronounced a speech about the place and impact of AGS on the lives of all of the students. She said: "Paris is known as the 'City of Light,' and we have all been enlightened by our education here at AGS. Not only have we studied the theoretical and fundamental building blocks of international relations, we have also been given the unique opportunity to experience this first-hand through daily interaction with the Parisian culture. (...) But beyond the academics, theses, and other aspects of graduate life, the core of our experience at AGS lies in our interactions with one another, sharing in the cultural differences that we each bring to our community. (...) Obviously, each one of us has grown in different ways through our experiences here, but I think this statement is a good summary shared by all of us; one student summed up his experience at AGS by saying: "This is probably the most unique and special experience I've ever been through. It's been quite a journey, a process of discovery through and through. I think what I'll remember the most is how, thanks to all those around me, Paris became my second home.”
AGS 2013 Conference
April 18-19, 2013 in ParisTheme: "Identity and Gender Politics within International Relations"
Sir Christopher MacRae United Kingdom
I aim to help my students prepare for life beyond "the groves of academe" - especially how to ask the right questions to work out what is really going on out there. Along the way, they practice writing lucidly and succinctly. It is stimulating teaching such a lively crew. I hope they also find it fun being challenged to analyse the facts without prejudice and to think originally.