The MSc programme Climate Studies is justified by the observed changes in climate occurring across the Earth, the surge in research aimed at improved understanding of the climate system and its dynamics, and emerging questions about the impact of climate change on ecosystems and society.
In science, the debate no longer revolves around whether our climate will change, but how it will change, how we can cope with the impact (adaptation), and how we can limit climate change in the long term (mitigation). These issues are important the world over and fuel a range of new challenges to natural and social sciences. Society needs answers to questions such as: How will climate change affect ecosystems and how will these in turn affect the climate system? What will be the effect on the availability of water and food? How will climate change issues set national and international political agendas? How will citizens, consumers, companies, and other social actors respond to climate change? What will be the economic costs of the impact and measures related to climate change, and how will these costs be distributed globally? Will new social and economic opportunities emerge in the process of adaptation? As these changes and challenges become ever more apparent, the demand for scientists who are able to understand and investigate them will rise. Wageningen University has therefore bundled expertise from Earth-, Life-, and Social Sciences in a unique MSc programme specifically aimed at students who wish to focus on the scientific insights in climate change and its implications for economy and society.
Climate Studies not only covers the most important geophysical and biogeochemical processes involved in climate change (the mechanisms), but also the socio-economic aspects of causes and effects, as well as adaptation and mitigation as the main categories of societal response. Climate Studies is a thesis-oriented programme. Compulsory and restricted optional courses in the first year relate to research methodology, subject matter at different levels, and the development of academic and professional skills. These courses serve as preparation for an individual academic internship and for individual thesis research, which demand a considerable degree of independence of the students. Climate Studies offers its students a wide range of thesis tracks. The following chairs offer climate-change related research projects: Earth System Science, Environmental Systems Analysis, Meteorology, Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management, Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology, Crop and Weed Ecology, Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources, and Environmental Policy. Cooperation with other chairs is also possible.
After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- explain the scientific concepts of the Earth's climate system and its regulating mechanisms, and classify the major processes that result in global change;
- explain the social-scientific concepts that are relevant to understanding the interactions between climate and society;
- distinguish between natural and anthropogenic driving forces and their effects on biogeochemical cycles and the climate system;
- apply the basic techniques of studying global change and climate variability such as statistics and modelling tools;
- use various methodological approaches to studying climate-related physical, socio-political and economic issues, including the prospects of mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change;
- independently design and execute research plans in accordance with academic standards, thus contributing to the development of the body of knowledge in the field;
- cooperate within a multidisciplinary team by contributing to the development of policy and management measures dealing with climate change and its effects on society;
- integrate scientific information and research results, and convincingly communicate the results to specialist and non-specialist audiences, both verbally and in writing, with due attention to the uncertainties involved in scientific insights;
- critically reflect on opinions on the causes and effects of climate change, and the validity of arguments brought forward;
- appreciate the widely divergent economic and cultural situations in which people live in different parts of the world, the varying effects that climate change and mitigating or adaptive measures may have on their well-being, and the different perceptions of climate risks they may have;
- reflect on the ethical aspects of their research and their recommendations of measures and interventions;
- design and plan their own learning processes by virtue of continuous reflection on personal knowledge, skills, attitudes and performance.
Graduates from this programme are well equipped to continue academic training as a PhD student or to start a career as a scientific professional in universities, research institutes, and governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Ir Th.M. Lexmond
Dr R.M.M. Roijackers
Chair: Dr ir C.S.A. van Koppen
Secretary: Ir Th.M. Lexmond
Forum Building, room 112
6708 PB Wageningen