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JAKARTA - On 30 June, the United in Diversity Forum (UID) held a graduation ceremony of its first class of IDEAS (Innovative, Dynamic Education for Action and Sustainability) program. The event took place at the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia.

Among distinguished guests at the event were Dr. Mari Pangestu, Minister of Trade of Indonesia; Mr. Alan White, Dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Business; H.E Mme. Zhang Qiyue, Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia; and representatives from the Singaporean Embassy and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Started last September for the first time, IDEAS is a one-year program designed to help Indonesia confront its challenges more effectively. It does so by engaging leaders across sectors to jointly step forward and take on Indonesia's complex challenges of conservation, education and business/social enterprise by going through a profound learning process. Together, they identify the root causes and collectively develop a closer relationship to work together and evolve a commitment to implement the solutions that are created.

Unlike other programs, which are too theory-focused, IDEAS is a practice-based journey. After an orientation and a few sessions on System Thinking and the Theory U - a set of principles of problem-solving and innovation developed by MIT's world renown professors Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer - IDEAS fellows spend the rest of their curriculum on building prototypes (projects), retreats, field trips, practice-sharing (shadowing), and other group-based activities.

And instead of writing a thesis or taking an oral exam, IDEAS fellows have to present their prototypes - which they, together with fellows in their chosen groups, work on for the entire length of the program - as a requirement of their graduation. And we are pleased to share that our 28 fellows did a great job!

But, graduating from IDEAS is not about getting a degree or certificate with which to shine your CV(s) or to get a (better) job. Rather, it is a journey after which one brings the knowledge and skills that one learns from it into one's live, work, community, and society. In doing so, we in fact contribute to the making of this world to be a better, more livable, and sustainable place.

"This is a unique program, [one that] is important to MIT. Our philosophy is that if we can bring ideas [together], we can improve the world...", said Dean White of MIT Sloan.

"I never had the opportunity to participate in something so comprehensive like IDEAS Indonesia. But, I had similar experiences before but never in one so comprehensive where you experience dimension [sic] and go through this journey with your group," said Indonesian Minister of Trade, Dr. Mari Pangestu.

As we congratulate the first class of IDEAS, UID would like to thank, first of all, MIT Sloan, particularly Professors Senge and Scharmer and Dean White, for everything you have done for IDEAS and UID; this journey would have been impossible without you.

We also wish to thank the Ministry of Trade, especially Dr. Mari Pangestu, and other agencies of the Indonesian Government, for believing in us and taking the IDEAS journey with us; like a bottle of fine, vintage wine, IDEAS would not have been so enjoyable an experience without you.

Finally, we thank our partners, friends, and supporters from business, civil society and other walks of life for participating in and supporting - financially or otherwise - IDEAS Indonesia; you helped us make the first class of IDEAS a success, and we will need you for the coming ones.

With gratitude, we are.

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