Student - May 22, 2008

New climate studies programme

The Earth System Science master’s programme has been changed to Climate Studies. The people behind the change expect the new programme to draw sixty students a year.

The climate master’s programme will be open to students with different backgrounds. Social science graduates will follow a programme that devotes extra attention to the natural science aspects of climate problems, and the natural scientists will take more courses on economics and sociology.

The programme’s name change led to discussions between the initiators and the Education Institute. The latter criticised the idea of recruiting under the name Climate Studies, because it might lead to problems with organisations such as the accreditation body QANU. The government and QANU are critical about institutions that attract students by thinking up trendy names for programmes. Moreover, a new name might have meant that new accreditation would be needed, a procedure that can take years. As a compromise, recruitment campaigns will use the name Climate Studies, MSc Earth System Science.

According to Dr Marcel Hoosbeek, secretary of the committee for the new study programme, the Wageningen programme is one of the first of its kind. ‘We address the question of how we can adjust to climate change. There are already climate studies programmes, but most of them are geared to the natural sciences, working for example with climate models. Our unique selling point is that we have a programme that combines natural and social sciences.’

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