Address on the occasion of convocation 2022

Wednesday 22. June 2022 | By: Peter Weiss

Dear graduating students, dear guests

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
                                       1 Thessalonians 5:21

You have gone through a cross-disciplinary study programme with many facettes. During your studies, you learn to know fellow students, and every second or third week a new course module starts with a new teacher, new methods and new habits. We think students do learn as much by their fellow students as by their teachers or from the books. And these fellow students, these teachers, are as different as they are many. 

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

We bring to the Westfjords numerous teachers of all kind. This is not only to offer students specialists in the respective field, it is also done to give them the opportunity to encounter different teaching styles, different age groups, and simply different characters. Some are as we would like to become, others are not. Give all things a chance; hold fast that which is good, but absolutely come out of your echo chamber. During your studies you take away the flank protection, open up for being challenged and for own introspection.

Lucky you if you have somebody who cares. It is good to receive critique. Not enjoyable, but it brings us forward, which is good.

Headwind and critique have been part of your studies as they are part of our lives. There is no reason to give up because of that.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

We do not learn from the good example alone. We also become aware of things which could have been done better. On our way are people who are not worthy of imitation. We experience push­backs. Bad faith and stupidity can put a spoke in our wheel.

You as specialists in regional development, in coastal management or in pedagogics, you will in your career, on your way trough life, encounter people who do not think of the big whole, but defend their positions tooth and nail, just because. Some seem to like being destructive. Bad faith and stupidity live in this world and we need to make a stand against them when we encounter them.

Do not avoid to stand up to them, but do avoid to let the destructive forces come close to your heart.

... Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Perhaps it is not politically correct to refer to the apostle Paul in a graduation. Still, a university which is mainly occupied with being politically correct is dead. We can learn from others as we can learn from a map at UW which is, as some call it, upside down. These things can help to open our eyes, can help to ask new questions, to question what we might think is normal.

For an apostle it might have been clear what the evil is, but...

The sciences do not tell us what is good and what is evil. They only give us at hand methods to search for the truth and to justify the results. The sciences can give us self-confidence to tell the truth and not to let us be silenced and hushed. The sciences can raise the level of discourse, get it out of the corner of blind confession and out of the echo chamber. The sciences can help us to take a deep breath and talk with each other. The sciences path the way for the discourse which defines at any time what is acceptable. 

Opinions rub against each other, they develop and eventually consolidate. By coming to the West­fjords you veered away from the given credo, from the influences and influencers, from the echo chambers and you gave new opinions a chance. Maybe the self-development during your studies is more important than all scholarliness.

But now you head out for life. Today is this great day when your studies lie behind you. You will hold your certificate in your hands, which lists diligently the learning outcomes – while it keeps silent on your self-development. What is the most important dower is the most difficult to assess, to measure, to record, and it is even what we hardly become aware of ourselves.

Today you stand at the stem of your ship and look over the sea. The jungle, which the studies can be, lies behind you, but in front of you nothing but sea and heaven.

Your personality has grown here and you are prepared for sailing over the sea. Yes, and also for some future jungles which might hide beyond the horizon.

I wish you as we shall sing in the common song afterwards: Wind from both sides, always from the best direction, for your career and your life.


Peter Weiss, University Centre of the Westfjords
on the occasion of convocation
Hrafnseyri, 17.06.2022