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Description of Science in Society

Science operates in a societal context; it is not a standalone activity. Contemporary societies are facing major challenges, and experts with a background in science who understand social processes and are able to work in an interdisciplinary team are highly demanded. Think for example about risk communication in the case of chemical explosions or about public health issues like the Dutch HPV vaccination campaign, the Mexican fluepidemic or Q-fever break out. Other fields include landornature development or decision making processes to deal with global climate change. Whenever stakeholders with different interests are involved, scientific knowledge is important, but it is also crucial to understand and deal with divergent perspectives and interests. Water management is an example of an issue where some stakeholders put human safety first while others put all their efforts in protecting or reconstructing nature.

Socially robust science and responsible innovation need scientists who know what nanotechnology or genetic modification is, but can also work in close cooperation with other experts to analyse public perceptions, to organise debates or to design and conduct participatory projects.

Students that have finished the Science in Society track develop careers in various fields: in intermediary organisations between science and society (policy, advisory bodies, interest groups and governments), in science communication or interdisciplinary research and in science journalism. The Master Track Science in Society equips you with the tools and skills to become a professional intermediary between science and society whilst providing you with a broader societal perspective that will be useful in a scientific career.

Lotte Krabbenborg is the coordinator of this specialisation.