A Master’s in Biobased Sciences is being developed by Wageningen University. ‘We hope that this Master can start latest in 2018-2019. Hopefully a year earlier. But that depends on the accreditation bodies’, says Gerlinde van Vilsteren.
Photo: Kurt Stepnitz
For the development of the courses for Biobased Sciences, plant scientists, process engineers and business experts are all involved. ‘The Biobased economy is of course not one sector’, explains Van Vilsteren. An alternative for the development of petro chemical industry calls for a whole new chain; connecting biomass producers (farmers and managers of natural areas) and refineries, the logistics sector, consumers of different biomaterials and biochemicals, and ultimately the consumers. Even the waste processing is included during the study. ‘It will become a broad study, where many students with different study backgrounds can join, from technologists to economists’, Van Vilsteren explains.
The master will start with a general part where students can brush up their knowledge on other disciplines. For example the students that have a technical background will follow a basic course in economy and students with a bachelor in business and consumer sciences will delve into biomass production and biochemistry. After that the study will split into three specializations: Biomass production, bio refinery, and conversion and Biobased transition. In the last part of the study the specializations will join together again.
Parallel to the accreditation process is the development of new courses. There is no fear that the accreditation will not go through. And the courses are for sure not designed for nothing. ‘As soon as a course is finished, it can of course be used in existing studies’, Van Vilsteren says. ‘Currently there are already two minors in the bachelor that concentrate on biobased economy and in the master Biotechnology students can already choose for the specialization Environmental and biobased technology.’
Involved in the setup of the new master are, among others, Harry Bitter (professor Biobased chemistry and technology), Luisa Trindade (associate professor Plant sciences), Jacqueline Bloemhof (professor Operations research and logistics), Emiel Wubben (associate professor Business administration), Anja Kuijpers (program director Plant sciences and Gerlinde van Vilsteren (director for the Centre for Biobased Economy, a collaboration between Wageningen UR and seven colleges to prepare young people for a job in the biobased economy.) The Board of Directors approved the new Masters in November 2015.