Career Opportunities and Qualifications

Career Opportunities
The overarching aim of the MA ESST is to train future researchers, innovation consultants, research managers and policy-officers with a profound and critical understanding of the relation between research, innovation and today’s social realities, including governance structures, processes of policy-formation, ethics etc. On basis of this aim we ‘produce’ a certain kind of graduates. But what kind of graduate do we want to ‘produce’? What is the profile of the ESST graduate?

a. Problem-definers in order to act as problem-solvers

The ESST programme aims to train professionals to become problem-solvers who are able to address today’s challenges. This implies training not from a singular point of view but from many different perspectives, as a technocratic approach is not sufficient to fully grasp the cultural aspects and the global dimension of the governance of innovation. Hence, by taking one step further in the so-called “responsible innovation” curriculum and placing responsible innovation in the ESST programme as its starting point instead, students are educated to become first-class problem-solvers, or to put it differently, sensitive innovators or innovation consultants.
However, it can be argued that ‘sensitive innovator/ innovation consultant’ should be a secondary consequence of educating you so you will are able to undertake thorough analysis of the problem itself, since intellectual academic work is still what we do and should be proud to deliver. We insist that simply educating people to provide thorough empirical analysis of specific cases of contemporary dynamics and conditions is in itself of substantial value. After all, although we may, in general terms, agree on the overall diagnosis, there is still plenty of analytical work to do. We should be careful not to be too hasty in defining what the present is like and start ‘solving problems’. Defining problems or being able to make very precise definitions of problems is a mayor achievement after all. A well-posed problem, paraphrasing Bergson, is far better than a solution provided on the backdrop of badly posed problem. In short, we insist that we educate you so you will be able to make thorough, in-depth, ‘slow’ analysis, in a time where everybody is in haste to solve problems, and by implication you (might) become sensitive innovators.

b. Bridge-builders with an advanced level of generic skills

We need to emphasize general (transferable) skills such as communication, synthesis, understanding, translation that enables ESST graduates to act as bridge-builders between the ‘Two Cultures’. After all, technology building is society-making by other means. We can translate one into the other. Such “translation” not merely a matter of rhetorical or organisational/ managerial skills. The key point is: Are you after completion of the ESST programme able to understand a) the epistemology of natural scientists and engineers, b) the epistemology of qualitative social research and different altogether c) the epistemology of lay-people, practitioners and civil society actors. Building bridges means to understand what these epistemologies each imply and what makes mutual understanding so difficult. Generic skills are crucial in this respect. Generic skills include formulating critical questions, developing strategies for investigating those questions, evaluating the results of their enquiries and presenting them in a media format suited to the audience (professional and non-professional), the ability to integrate empirical research and theoretical analysis, and switch between micro and macro levels of analysis. Other generic skills are: (academic) writing skills; communicative skills; argumentative skills; time management; personal effectiveness; text analysis; project management; teamwork and library techniques and the APA citation style. These generic skills and the interdisciplinary approach will make you able to question what is knowledge, and how to create conditions favourable to innovation and creativity.

c. Specialized generalists

The ESST program aims to train professionals with a ‘cosmopolitan’ quality by which we mean both the competence to work constructively in international and interdisciplinary teams as and the competence of being versed in understanding the frameworks and tools emanating from different disciplines, their merits and limitations. The wide scope of the first semester will make you not only aware of the many theoretical and methodological approaches but also of the interrelationship between them: defining situations, problems, circumstances on the basis of a particular theoretical framework has methodological implications and vice versa (e.g. realism – relativism frame). Your awareness of how particular situations, facts and artifacts can be defined in various ways, will make you more alert to recognize the underlying assumptions in problem definitions, policy papers and positions in (academic or public) debate. Equipped with this way to see the world you enter the second semester and apply the perspectives in a narrower area of your interest. In this way you become a ‘specialized generalist’. More than twenty years of experience has proven that the combination of a broad scope and specialized knowledge is appealing for employers.

The final qualifications of the MA ESST are specified in line with the European Higher Education Area EHEA framework of qualifications for Master’s level (Dublin descriptors) and its required level of knowledge, skills, academic attitude and employability in particular.

MA ESST graduates:
1. have demonstrated knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends and/or enhances knowledge and understanding that are typically associated with the first cycle, and that provide a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context. MA ESST graduates demonstrate advanced knowledge, and specifically:

a) can understand the academic core concepts and theoretical frameworks relevant for understanding and analyzing interrelationship between science, technology and society, and their strengths and weaknesses.
b) can distinguish different levels of analysis and relevant methodologies to analyze innovation processes and their socio-political implications.
c) can understand contemporary as well as historical technology and science-related developments in e.g. industries and universities, and their (contested) expectations and governance.

2. apply knowledge and understanding in new or unfamiliar environments, and have problem solving abilities within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study. MA ESST graduates can apply knowledge and problem-solving abilities, and specifically:

a) can apply an inter-disciplinary approach or adapt other approaches in related fields, such as innovation studies, organizational studies and cultural studies to new issues and problems, by:

– formulating feasible problem definitions and appropriate research designs, while applying the relevant theories and qualitative and quantitative research methods;
– identify strategies for handling complexity pertaining to innovation.
– retrieving the appropriate sources;
– formulating feasible solutions or recommendations;. – reporting about the above process to the involved stakeholders.

3. have the ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity, and formulate judgments with incomplete or limited information. The application of knowledge and judgments also involves reflecting on the social and ethical responsibilities that are linked to it. MA ESST graduates can handle complexity and formulate judgments, and specifically:

a) understand, use and reflect on different disciplinary perspectives of the science, technology and society interrelationship.
b) explicate the implied normativity, political influences, power distribution and ethical consequences of research and innovations, as well as position themselves in regard to these implications.
c) understand, reflect upon and cope with the complexity of the development of new emerging technologies in society, and formulate appropriate strategies and recommendations for different stakeholders, while being aware of the (differential) impact of these strategies on the allocation of values.

4. can communicate their conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously. MA ESST can communicate clearly and ambiguously, and specifically:

a) can communicate ideas fluently on an advanced level as necessary for working in an international, professional environment.
b) can effectively and convincingly communicate, both orally and in writing about issues regarding contemporary societies with stakeholders from different domains of society: scientists, engineers, politicians, businesspeople and the public, and act as ‘bridge builders’ between the ‘two cultures’.
c) can communicate without the use of jargon with non-specialist audiences on specialist topics.

5. have the learning skills to allow them to continue to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous. MA ESST graduates have learning skills as independent researchers, and specifically:

a) have the skills to work constructively and cooperate in international and interdisciplinary teams and undertake self-guided research and/or analysis and deliver original, advanced level work;
b) can actively sustain and further develop their skills to engage in a process of critical reflection and making constructive use of feedback / peer review;c) can actively sustain and further develop their skills required for continuous learning in an autonomous way and also the skills required to reflect upon this process