From September 2012, the University of Twente has launched its redesigned Master’s degree programme Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society (PSTS). The admission requirements for the new PSTS programme have been broadened. From September 2012 onwards, all students with a Bachelor’s degree can transfer on to this two-year English-language Master’s degree programme. In the Master’s programme PSTS, students will learn to consider the influence of science and technology on society, in a systematic and methodical manner. Programme director Prof. Ciano Aydin explained, “This broadened admission policy aims to meet the demand from both arts and social sciences graduates who wish to follow the PSTS Master’s programme.”
This broadening of admission requirements was recommended by the commission from the most recent NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders) visitation. Students with a Bachelor’s degree in technology need to make a turnaround in their thinking to take in philosophical reflection on science and technology. Students with a background in philosophy and social sciences are already well trained in reflection and methodology. If they also have an affinity with science and technology, in this Master’s degree programme they can learn to apply those reflection and method-based skills in the analysis and evaluation of scientific findings and technological artefacts and systems. Both the first-year and second-year programme have been reconfigured to match the differing backgrounds of students. Aydin continued, “We naturally expect to attract more students, as a result.”
The international Master’s degree programme in PSTS at the UT is a unique and small-scale degree programme. Within this degree programme, students explore such questions as how real is friendship on social network sites like Facebook? Are new technologies in a position to alter our values and standards? Are there ethical limits to the genetic modification of animals and human beings? PSTS teaches its students to critically consider the influence of science and technology on society. In Prof. Aydin’s words, “The programme is not aimed at classical philosophy but specifically at the application of philosophy. Scientific developments and current and new techniques and technologies always form the starting point. The way in which we then philosophize is based on empirical and multidisciplinary information processes. Our aim is to appeal to students who demonstrate a broad interest in social themes. This approach makes the programme unique not only in the Netherlands, but in the whole world. As a consequence, we attract students from all corners of the globe.”
The renewed Master’s degree programme ties in with both technical and social sciences degree programmes. There is considerable demand from the market for academics and professionals who are capable of successfully tackling issues concerning the role of science and technology in society. Alumni from PSTS have found employment with technical businesses and organizations, engineering firms, consultancy firms, centres of excellence, policy bodies, research departments and universities, many of them in positions at the interface between science, technology and society. On 6 June is the Last Minute Day at the University of Twente.
For more information and an movie about PSTS, click here.