Opinion: ‘I chose Wageningen to help make the world a better place’

Are first year students do-gooders, or did they choose WUR for other reasons?
Text: Willem Andrée, Luuk Zegers and Aarzoo Kohra

Wageningen University focusses on climate change, biodiversity, nutrition, health, and other global issues. Is that why most students opt for Wageningen, because they want to help make the world a better place? Or doesn’t that come into it? Resource asked first-years at the AID.

Floris (19), BSc student of Molecular Life Sciences

‘To be honest, I didn’t choose this degree for a noble ethical reason. This is the subject I want to do, full stop. I did pick Wageningen University specifically. I was looking for a green, sustainable university. I looked at all the universities offering this subject and Wageningen came out top for me. Friendly, small-scale and green. And there’s another reason, actually: I’m a real technology/science student and I want interaction with all the science subjects. If you do applied physics at another university, you only get maths and physics and not chemistry and biology as well. And hopefully I can make the world a better place with my knowledge, but that is not the main reason for choosing it.’

Bas (18), BSc student of Soil, Water, Atmosphere

‘I used to want to study medicine, but in the end I chose a more practical degree. Soil, Water, Atmosphere really appeals to me. You can go in various directions with it afterwards, but you know that what you are going to study is important. The subject is highly relevant, so you can really contribute to a better future with this degree. I picked Wageningen because nowhere else offers this degree programme.’

The university’s good reputation is the main reason

Jorian (24), MSc student of Forest and Nature Conservation

‘I lived in India for 20 years—in Bangalore to be exact—and I started my Bachelor’s there. Since childhood, I wanted to understand more about rainforests, so for my Bachelor’s thesis, I went to the rainforest in Indonesia, where I stayed for about three months. While I was there, I became interested in learning more about forest ecology. I got to know about Wageningen University when searching the web. It is supposed to be one of the best universities for ecology. So now I am here.’

Michelle (24), MSc student of Nutrition and Health

‘I finished my Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Diet and wanted to continue my studies in the same direction. WUR is the only university I found where you can combine Nutrition and Health with a specialization in Data Sciences. It is also a famous university, another reason to do my Master’s here. And I’ve heard there are good job opportunities after a degree here.’

I want to help improve the environment

Fredrick (31), MSc student of Animal Sciences

‘I did a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences and I decided to continue in the same field. I chose WUR as it is the best agricultural university. The good reputation of the university is my main reason. I feel that how to feed livestock is a challenging issue at this time. I am interested in developing cheaper feedstuffs of good quality.’

Kaya (18), BSc student of Molecular Life Sciences

‘I have felt a connection with the world around me since I was very young. There is so much suffering and misery, and I worry about that. I was a member of the WWF, for example. The way polar bears’ habitat is shrinking – that pains me. Sometimes I try to shut it out, but I can’t always do that. At secondary school I read about a study on adapting enzymes to make plastic break down better. That was an eye-opener, and then I knew that I would like to do that kind of research. I want to contribute to improving the environment and the state of the world.’

Kamiel (19), BSc student of Forest and Nature Conservation

‘There were three reasons for me to choose Wageningen. Firstly, it’s the only place where I can do this degree. I looked up all the comparable degrees and this was the one for me. Secondly, I wanted to get out of Amsterdam, where I come from. I wanted to go somewhere green, peaceful and without many tourists. Lastly, I’ve been interested in nature all my life, counting birds in the polder or taking long walks in the woods, and I create gardens as a job on the side. And I really wanted to study something I enjoy, where my heart lies. I’m not the kind who chooses their degree because it guarantees a job, or anything like that. We’ll see about that when the time comes. First I want to enjoy completing my degree.’

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