At the moment, Sander is working on his thesis on environmental citizen science. In this thesis he combines his interest in environmental issues with communication. Sander did the bachelor Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University and Research. During his bachelor he became aware of his interest in communication and environmental education. Sander noticed that he really likes to talk about issues such as climate change, but did not want to study the biochemical issues behind it. Therefore, after his bachelor, Sander did a premaster for the master’s Communication, Health and Life Sciences, and then started this master. He realised that this was the master for him.
For Sander, the specialisation Communication and Innovation is all about learning to become a bridge builder between different groups of people and between different disciplines. Building bridges is something Sander wants to work towards, and which motivates him during the master. After he graduates, he wants to be able to bring people to the table and talk about the issues they have. An example of his interest are the ‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) issues. An example of this issue is that people do not want windmills in their neighbourhood. According to Sander, people can go very far in protesting against windmills when they are near their home. He would like those people, together with other stakeholders, to come to the table to talk about the issues and together think of solutions.
Therefore, he found the course Facilitating Interactive Processes very valuable. During this course he learnt how people can react during conversations, and how you can use those situations as a facilitator. You learn different methods and skills in order to be a good facilitator, and to be able to discuss complex issues such as climate change, social welfare and public health problems.
What Sander appreciates in the study programme is that as a student you are quite free in your choice of courses. You first start with some general courses, where you get to know several methods in communication science. After that, you can choose any life sciences course you like. Next to that, there are four communication courses of which you have to choose two. Sander chose the life science courses Environmental Psychology, which is about the relation between human and nature. Besides that, he chose Integrated Ecosystem Assessment in Regional Management. During this course the ecosystem services of nature were discussed: nature can give products such as apples and wood, but also trees that provide oxygen and structure to the soil. However, valuing those services in terms of money is difficult.
These courses can support Sander’s thesis and internship. He is looking for an internship as an environmental manager. When a change is planned in a certain area, the environmental manager will bring together the different stakeholders and discuss the planned change. Sander hopes that he can make everybody satisfied with the change.
Sander argues that communication science is a broad field of research. However, you can find your own interest in this field. For Sander this is sustainability. His eyes start to sparkle and he could talk for hours about sustainability issues. He has certainly found his motivation in the courses and in the master by combining communication and sustainability.