20 Years of „Peace and Security Studies” – Ceremony and Alumni Meeting

Peace research, solution-oriented policy advice and the training of young professionals in turbulent times: On May 6, 2022, the Institute of Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) and the Alumni Society celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Master’s degree programme Peace and Security Studies by hosting a ceremony and an alumni meeting at the University of Hamburg.

The keynote speaker was Aydan Özoguz, current Vice-President of the German Bundestag and former Minister of State. In her speech, she focused on foreign policy and security policy debates, particularly in the context of the war in Ukraine. She emphasized the importance of maintaing dialogue between politics and acadamia, and she was full of praise for the cooperation between the Federal Foreign Office and the IFSH.

Additionally, Dr Patricia Schneider, academic coordinator of the master’s programme, stressed in her speech that it is exactly this kind of cooperation with ministries and diverse acadamic institutions that makes the programme Peace and Security Studies one of a kind. For more than 20 years, the programme has combined various disciplines - political science, philosophy, law, economics and the natural sciences - with a hands-on approach.

This approach is reflected in particular in the "Cooperation Network for Peace Research and Security Policy (KoFrieS)", which is part of the programme and a great benefit to the students. The network comprises various faculties of the University of Hamburg and about 20 national and international partner institutions that offer courses, internships and supervision of master’s theses.

2002: Germany’s first degree programme in "Peace and Security Studies" starts

The postgraduate programme Peace and Security Studies was founded in 2002 by Professor Dr Dr Dieter S. Lutz. He was followed by the programme directors Professor Dr Dr Hans-Joachim Giessmann and Professor Dr Götz Neuneck, both of whom decisively shaped the programme.

At the ceremony, Professor Dr Ursula Schröder, current head of programme, stated that the IFSH is very proud of the interdisciplinary and international course. But she also warned: “The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine reminds us in a very brutal manner that the issues the programme deals with are more important and topical than ever before. We understand questions of security and peace comprehensively, we examine major challenges for sustainable peace in a theory-based manner, and we monitor current political and social developments critically and constructively.”

Under the leadership of Professor Dr Ursula Schröder, the academic relationship between the University of Hamburg and the IFSH has become even closer, particularly with the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. Moreover, Ursula Schröder also introduced comprehensive study reforms. For example, the course now lasts four semesters (altough students still have the option to complete it in two semesters) and has a new modular structure. She explained: “We need more peace research and security policy competencies, we need to train young and qualified professionals for work in research, governmental offices and non-governmental organisations, and we do take these matters of teaching and promoting of young professionals very seriously at the IFSH.”

Dr Rolf Greve, Head of Office for Science and Research of the Authority for Science, Research, Equality and Districts and sponsor of the IFSH, and Professor Dr Cord Jakobeit, Dean of the WiSo Faculty of the University of Hamburg and long-time supporter of the programme and the IFSH, also delivered a welcome speech.

Recognition of students who graduated during the pandemic

This ceremony also paid special tribute to the class of 2020 and 2021, as their ceremonies were cancelled due to the pandemic situation. The class representatives of both classes - Laura Ohlendorf, Julius Nebel as well as Jana Kämmer and Bert Brockmann - shared their experiences and gave a moving speech addressing the head of study and their fellow students.

Another speech was given by Peter Finke, first Chairperson of the Alumni Association. The “Association of Friends, Sponsors and Participants of the Master of Peace and Security Studies (M.P.S.) at the University of Hamburg e.V.” was founded in 2002 on the initiative of the class of 2002. The members are current students, graduates, lecturers, friends and other supporters of the institute and its degree programme. Information about the alumni association and how to support its important work of it can be found here.

20 years of "Peace and Security Studies" and 450 graduates

A total of 452 graduates from 69 countries have completed the programme so far. Due to the small group size of 25 to 30 students with different disciplinary backgrounds and the intensive supervision by many highly committed lecturers and supervisors, there have hardly been any dropouts in the last 20 years. Today, we can rely on a huge network of graduates, who are still in touch with us and continue to work with us even years after their graduation through teaching or research.

The festivities finished with a panel discussion on "What we study, work, fight for". Colonel (G.S.) G. Jürgen Schrödl (alumnus, BMVg), Janel Galvanek (alumna, Berghof Foundation) and Prof. Dr Götz Neuneck (former head of the programme) reported on their working lives and the challenges of peace-compatible security policy in practice. The discussion was moderated by almuna Beram Mahmoud

After the ceremony, the alumni association invited all the guests to get together and have a chat at a nearby restaurant.

Photos of the Event

Further information on the master’s programme can be found here. Students can always apply for the winter semester.

Students of the 20th year celebrated their graduation with many other alumni and lecturers. (c) IFSH | Michael Zapf