Communication, Health and Life Sciences (MCH) / MSc

Profile

The Master trains academic professionals who are able to facilitate and drive societal change for health development and sustainable environments. In this programme, students learn to understand complex social problems around food, health and the environment from various perspectives as well as to translate issues for diverse audiences and to build bridges across societal boundaries (e.g. between science and society, health and care, experts and citizens, different professions, or established and emerging interests). The programme emphasises inter- and transdisciplinarity so that students learn how to develop integrated approaches across and beyond scientific disciplines. A few natural science courses are an integral part of the programme, training students to develop an understanding of a life-science issue of their choice, and an appreciation of natural science approaches. Students learn how scientific, professional and everyday knowledge is constituted and practiced in societal contexts. Graduates are able to initiate and facilitate collaboration between professionals, experts and citizens, between various organisations and professions, and between the life sciences and society.

The programme embraces a systems approach that emphasises relations in complex social systems and stresses the importance of communication and collaboration in the contemporary network society. During their studies students explore processes of communication and interaction, change and innovation in the life-science domains with a view to the interplay of planned and unplanned change; behaviour change; contestation, conflict and collaboration in pluralist societies; and the role of 'experts' and expertise in society.

Specialisation A - Communication and Innovation
The specialisation understands communication as the creation of meaning in interaction. This enables the application of communication concepts to innovation processes in a broad sense that includes social innovation, but also technological innovation in society. Change-oriented communication is essential in tackling some of the big challenges of our times, such as the transition to sustainable patterns of consumption and production, pro-active approaches to health and well-being, and equality in health, food and environmental quality. At the same time, effective change processes require a deep understanding of the embeddedness of interaction in social and physical structures.

Specialisation B - Health and Society
The specialisation provides students the opportunity to understand health, food and environmental issues from different perspectives. It conceives of health as a resource that enables people to lead an individually, socially and economically satisfying and productive life. Students can explore food, environmental and health (care) issues as a function of the reciprocal interaction between people and their socio-ecological context, both with respect to risks and resources for health and sustainability. Students can explore complex innovation processes in the life-sciences with a focus on the role of collaboration and interaction.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- describe and apply social science principles, concepts, theories and methodologies focusing on communication in societal interaction with life science- and health-related issues;
- describe how complex societal issues and scientific perspectives (and their diverse meanings) are constructed and inform each other;
- analyse the interplay of agency and structure in processes of change for a range of actors embedded in diverse organisations, networks and social systems;
- evaluate advanced and complex concepts, approaches and methods within the domain of the specialization, with special reference to inter- and transdisciplinary problems and approaches identified in scientific literature;
- assess social, scientific and ethical issues that are encountered in the application of methods and concepts in research and intervention strategies, and critically reflect on the various roles in responding to these issues;
- construct an appropriate design for quantitative and qualitative empirical research by selecting suitable research methods for data collection and analysis, and demonstrate ability to identify need for new theoretical, methodological and practical approaches;
- operate, communicate and cooperate as a context-sensitive expert amidst professionals, scientists, policymakers and the wider public, and perform oral and written project-based work in an inter-disciplinary team;
- create constructive inter- and transdisciplinary conversation and collaboration within and between diverse social and scientific organisations and professions;
- design and plan personal learning processes based on continuous reflection upon one's own knowledge, skills, attitudes and performance.

and, in addition
for specialisation A:
- design, and critically reflect on, communication strategies to address life science-related societal challenges (e.g., climate change, environment, water, food production, biotechnology or health and nutrition);
- apply the ideas, theories and themes of innovation to communication sciences in processes of change related to a domain of choice in the life sciences.

for specialisation B:
- critically analyse the way in which diverse knowledges, communication and practices of health, well-being and healthcare are used to shape and organise the lives of individuals, groups and populations from a comparative historical and demographic perspective;
- assess instruments used in scientific and societal approaches to understanding, governing, mediating, advocating for and acting upon health and well-being (e.g. salutogenesis) and design innovative pathways to bridge such approaches.

Specializations

- Communication and Innovation;
- Health and Society.

Programme Director

Ir G.C. van Nieuwenhoven, MSc
Email: gerry.vannieuwenhoven@wur.nl
Phone: 0317-(4)82500

Study Adviser(s)

For Specialization A:
- H.C. Baker, MSc
Phone: 0317-(4)82416
Email: heather.baker@wur.nl

For Specialization B:
- Ir G.C. van Nieuwenhoven, MSc
Email: gerry.vannieuwenhoven@wur.nl
Phone: 0317-(4)82500

Programme Committee

Chair: Dr M.E. Ormond
Secretary: Ir G.C. van Nieuwenhoven

Internet

For Specialization A:
http://www.wageningenuniversity.nl/mcs
For Specialization B:
http://www.wageningenuniversity.nl/mhs

Study Association

For Specialization A:
Ipso Facto
De Leeuwenborch, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen
Email: bestuur.ipso-facto@wur.nl

For Specialization B:
Mercurius Wageningen, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen
Internet http://www.mercuriuswageningen.nl