Virtual graduation ceremony for the BSE Class of 2020

Graduation 2020 speakers - Esther Duflo, Andreu Mas-Colell, and members of the BSE Scientific Council

The 13th cohort of BSE Master's students graduated in a virtual ceremony that included a keynote by Economics Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo.

The Barcelona School of Economics held a virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on July 10, 2020. The online event celebrated the achievements of the 13th cohort of the BSE Master's Degrees in Economics and Finance, Specialized Economic Analysis, and Data Science.

The traditional ceremony in Barcelona could not be held due to continuing health and safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Large public gatherings were not permitted, and many students had already left the city and completed the third term from home.

There was a silver lining, however, as the online ceremony format made it possible for members of the BSE Scientific Council, professors, alumni, and of course, the students themselves to participate.

Rewatch the full ceremony on YouTube

Graduation ceremony program




  • Teresa García-Milà, Director of the BSE
  • Directors and faculty of the BSE Master's programs
  • Members of the BSE Scientific Council:
    • Hugo Sonnenschein, University of Chicago (Chair of the Scientific Council)
    • Richard Blundell, UCL
    • Bengt Hölmstrom, MIT (Nobel Laureate 2016)
    • Matthew O. Jackson, Stanford University
    • Anne Krueger, Johns Hopkins University



The virtual ceremony is just the beginning of the celebration for the Class of 2020. The graduates will also be invited back to Barcelona in 2021 to walk across the stage with the next cohort of BSE Master's students.

Esther Duflo: "Even before the pandemic, Western society seemed to be on the brink of explosion."

Professor Esther Duflo (MIT, Nobel Laureate 2019) is one of the world's foremost development economists and directs MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). In her speech to the BSE Class of 2020, she spoke about the pivotal moment students are living and how they can make use of their education to address some of society's most daunting problems, such as poverty, racism, and climate change.

"You may wonder, how am I going to do that? What is my responsibility? How do I make progress?" Professor Duflo began her keynote. "As I hear the sound of helicopters over my head, going over Boston to police the demonstrations against racism, believe me, I often ask myself the same questions."

The Nobel Laureate encouraged students to tackle global challenges one small issue at a time. "Once you pick your issue, go for it with all your intelligence, all your training... In this way, you'll make progress on this one issue. If many, many people make progress on many, many issues, we will prevail," Professor Duflo said.

Watch the keynote by Professor Duflo


Merle Steffen '20: "Don't limit yourself by the imagination of others."

Like our keynote speaker, this year's student speaker Merle Steffen '20 also urged the class to choose a project that will improve the world around them. "Our choices are so powerful because every change, no matter the size, is intertwined with other changes," Ms. Steffen said. "Our actions can inspire others. Our actions can become a movement, a movement constructing a new, unimaginable world, and we are the architects."

Watch the speech by Merle Steffen '20

Andreu Mas-Colell: "Let's meet again in 10 years for a mid-career re-graduation."

The ceremony was closed by Professor Andreu Mas-Colell (UPF, founder of the BSE), who recognized the additional and unexpected challenges the students faced this year. He then made the following proposal to the Class of 2020:

"Let's meet in 10 years' time and celebrate a sort of mid-career 're-graduation,' an occasion to look back on this very singular — I hope — year, and to reflect with pride on how we were able to overcome difficulties that were unexpected indeed, and emerge victorious. Then, we shall trade war stories late into the night," Professor Mas-Colell said.

Gràcies, mestre. #BSE2020

— Roger (@RogerMedina_) July 10, 2020

Watch Professor Mas-Colell's remarks


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