In the MSc programme Climate Studies, Wageningen University has bundled expertise from Earth-, Life-, and Social Sciences. This unique MSc programme is aimed specifically at students who wish to focus on the scientific insights in climate change and its interactions with society and the economy.
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.
The great relevance of this programme comes from the observed changes in our 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 in both developed and developing countries, and fuel a range of new challenges to natural and social sciences. Society needs answers to questions such as: How and to what extent can greenhouse gas emissions be reduced from technical, economic and policy perspectives? How will climate change affect ecosystems and how will these in turn affect the climate system? What will be the effect of climate change on access to water and availability of 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 are the economic costs of climate change impacts and adaptation measures? How will these costs be shared globally? Will new social and economic opportunities emerge in the process of adaptation? As these changes and challenges become ever more apparent, the demand will rise for well-trained professionals who are able to understand and investigate them. The Climate Studies MSc programme trains such professionals.
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-change related thesis research projects are offered by the Earth Science chair groups of Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management, Meteorology, and Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality, the Life Science chair groups of Crop and Weed Ecology, Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, and Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality, the Social Science chair groups of Environmental Economics and Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, and the interdisciplinary chair groups Environmental Systems Analysis and Water Systems and Global Change. Cooperation with other chair groups is also possible. In addition to the choice between scientific disciplines, students can opt for one of the career-oriented tracks, including consultancy, entrepreneurship, international relations, and research.
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 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.
Interim Programme Director:
Drs. M. Lexmond
- Drs. M.J. Lexmond
- Ir. S.J.M. van Bavel
Chair: dr.ir. L.N. Ganzeveld
Secretary: Ir. S.J.M. van Bavel
Forum Building, room 112
Droevendaalsesteeg 2, 6708 PB Wageningen