Graduation 2019: Introduction Remarks from Sakiko Fukuda-Parr


Julien J. Studley Programs in International Affairs
Recognition Ceremony: May 16, 2019

Welcome and introduction by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor and Program Director


Good morning.

This is a joyous moment, and it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you on behalf of the faculty and staff of the Julien J. Studley Program in International Affairs – or GPIA – as we call ourselves. Congratulations International Affairs graduating class of 2019!

This is a time when we reflect backwards and forwards. I think back to the times that I met you first, whether at orientation or in classes. I feel so proud of how far you have come. I think forward to your dispersing to many corners of the world, pursuing different career paths whether that is in further scholarship or in a profession, in environment, migration, community development or any of the other fields of international affairs. Wherever or whatever it is, I have no doubt that you will be pursuing a praxis of international affairs in the GPIA tradition, a praxis that is based on critical enquiry and commitment to the values of global solidarity and human rights.

International Affairs is more important today than ever. We live in an inter-related and interdependent world. Our actions here in New York affect the lives of people in far away places, in China, India, Nigeria, Ecuador, Paraguay and beyond. Similarly, the actions of people in those places affect us. The decisions of our governments have momentous consequences for people in other countries and vice versa. Dean Watson referred earlier to the urgent challenges that we face in the world today. All those problems are both local and global in nature and require international cooperation to address. Yet there is growing sentiment of anti-globalism and distrust in international institutions. This is a crisis. We need people who think globally to address these problems and to foster solidarity. International affairs in the 21st century needs new solutions with new perspectives and ideas. And it is your generation to whom we now turn for the new thinking.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce our student speaker, Clara von Loebenstein. In selecting the student speaker, we – the GPIA faculty – sought someone who has the qualities of a scholar and high standards of academic work and who has been a good citizen in our community, respected by all. It was not a difficult choice. Clara stands out as someone who is truly exceptional.

For example, Clara was a member of the first Havana Studio class, traveled to Cuba in March 2018, and produced such an outstanding paper on the history of housing in Cuba that it became require reading for the class the following year. Her work in the Studio also went far beyond the requirements of the course. Working during the summer of 2018, she developed the methodology and data for assessing on housing in the Regla neighborhood of Havana.

Clara served as the Program Associate in the Observatory in Latin America where she managed many activities and took important initiatives. A notable example was the event held on Saturday, April 13 with the Mexican Government which held an open consultation for Mexicans in New York to comment on the proposed federal budget for Mexico. This event involved more than 300 participants. Another event she organized was a three day training event in July 2018 at the request of UN Habitat on monitoring of urban indicators.

Clara is proactive and takes initiative. She is a problem-solver, strong, determined, with an ability to do difficult things. She is an articulate voice on the subject of social justice and she has earned the respect and affection of faculty and students alike. She is someone will make a difference and contribute to creating a more sustainable and equitable global society.

– Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor and Program Director