Student testimonial

Student Joris – MSc Communication Health and Life Sciences

Joris is doing a double Master's programme, combining Communication and Innovation with Agroecology (Organic Agriculture)

Different domains need to be brought together if we want to achieve a sustainable future.

After Joris started the European Master’s specialisation in Agroecology (part of the Master’s in Organic Agriculture) he decided he would also sign up for the specialisation in Communication and Innovation. Joris chose to combine the Master’s programmes so that he could explore how communication can contribute to the development and implementation of innovations to accelerate the transition to more resilient and sustainable food systems. He wants to enable people with different (and perhaps conflicting) backgrounds and points of view to engage with each other better in the development, integration and application of technical and sector-specific expertise for food systems. Joris found out about the Master’s programme in Communication, Health and Life Sciences through another communications course he had taken previously. He had enjoyed that course, and after doing some research online he decided to combine the Master’s programmes.

Looking back, Joris can see that his interest in combining agroecology with communication started with his bachelor’s thesis. He saw that if you want to make any part of the food chain more sustainable, you have to tackle the entire chain. Achieving sustainability is therefore more complicated than he initially thought.

In his agroecology courses, Joris is learning how he can apply systems approaches to the study, design and evaluation of agricultural systems and food production chains. He has learned where supply chain participants can expect to encounter barriers to achieving more sustainable business practices. Joris hopes he can take the knowledge and skills he’s acquiring in his communication courses and apply them constructively in the pursuit of more sustainable food systems.

Joris has just completed the introductory and optional courses in his Master’s programme. His optional courses were Facilitating Interactive Processes and Intercultural Communication. He has learned how scientific communication can contribute to solutions to complex societal issues, which included studying opportunities and challenges around knowledge integration.

For Joris, collaboration between different parties in food systems is crucial. He feels that achieving a sustainable food system requires us to examine the entire chain, and not just the production side. “Different domains need to be brought together if we want to achieve a sustainable future.” That means economists need to sit down with ecologists. We need to work together to look at how we can make sustainable innovations a reality. “Economists need ecologists, and vice versa,” Joris insists. “The role of the communication specialist is to make this clear, and to blur boundaries so that ecologists and economists can be brought together. You need to spark an interest in other perspectives so that you can work collaboratively to achieve better solutions.”

Through his communication courses, Joris is learning how to act as a knowledge broker between the various parties. The knowledge he builds up from his agroecology courses will give him the sector-specific expertise he expects to need.

Joris’ advice to other students on choosing a Master’s programme: look for the subjects that intrinsically motivate you. Ultimately, a Master’s should feel not like something you have to do, but something you want to do.

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