The new bachelor of Marine Sciences focuses on the maritime domain in the broadest sense of the word, say programme director Jan Philipsen and policy officer Jetske ten Caat, the two driving forces behind the new programme.
There are significant developments and challenges in the marine sector, Philipsen explains. ‘Consider, for example, the enormous increase in renewable energy production at sea while conserving biodiversity and seizing opportunities for the protein transition and climate adaptation. Key topics that Wageningen has been working in from various perspectives over the years.’ The required expertise is readily available, but a programme was lacking. ‘Neither are other Dutch universities offering a bachelor programme focusing specifically on the marine domain.’
WUR already offers the Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management master’s programme within this domain. Students who entered that programme from a WUR bachelor report that there is insufficient focus on the marine aspect in the bachelor stage, says Ten Caat. ‘This bachelor can solve that issue.’
The new programme focuses on international issues and targets both Dutch and international students. Plilipsen: ‘The students contribute different levels of experience with marine issues to the programme. During the bachelor’s, they will learn to understand the system in all its aspects: as an ecological system, an environmental system, a food system and a socioeconomic system.’
There is a considerable chance we will offer a diving courseJetske ten Caat, education policy officer
Ten Caat: ‘Our alumnus will have broad training and will be able to interact with engineers, biologists, environmental specialists and policymakers. Not a super-specialist, but a generalist. Our market research shows that the marine sector sorely needs such generalists. The master’s offers opportunities for specialisation.’ A diving licence is not required when enrolling for the new bachelor’s, Philipsen says. ‘But the students will learn to conduct studies in the maritime domain, which includes snorkelling or diving. There is a considerable chance we will offer a diving course.’
Curriculum under development
The Ministry of Education has granted permission for the new programme, Ten Caat states. ‘The next step is for the NVAO (the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation, ed.) to assess the curriculum for the first year. We are currently developing the programme curriculum with teachers and the Education Support Centre.’ If all goes as planned, the new bachelor’s programme will launch in September 2023.