Honours course: Communication and Innovation in Health and Life Sciences

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

Students will:
• Obtain insight into some key technological innovations in health and
life sciences and their impact on society.
• Obtain insight into the characteristics of various communication
models for science and technology
• Obtain a thorough understanding of different methods for interactive
communication on technology innovations.
• Acquire insight into the theory and empirics of the fields of system
innovations and transitions.
• Be able to critically analyse and compare recent real-life cases in
interactive communication on technological innovations in health and
life sciences.
• Be able to communicate verbally and in scientific writing about their
knowledge and understanding and to critically reflect on that.
• Be able to reflect on one’s personal role and stance towards
technological and social innovations.
• Be able to work in multidisciplinary teams.

Inhoud vak

Technological innovations have considerably contributed to economic
growth and improved health worldwide. At the same time new technologies
may also give rise to societal problems. Well-known examples are
technologies such as genetic modification and nuclear energy, which have
raised various ethical questions, and may negatively affect the
environment and human health. Societal controversies concerning
genetically modified crops in Europe have, for example, led to the
prohibition of commercial production and import of such crops. The
mutual attuning between technology and society is quite a complex
This course focuses on the question of how to realize the ambitious
goals of science and technology in our modern knowledge and risk
society, and how to critically analyse the pitfalls. Lack of appropriate
communication between scientists, technologists, marketing specialists,
policymakers, consumers, and the public at large is often mentioned as
one of the main reasons for ‘failed’ technological innovations.
Communicating technological innovations to a wide variety of actors,
including the public, has become an essential enterprise for industry,
research institutes, universities, government agencies, science museums
and NGOs.
Traditionally the focus in science communication is on mass
communication, and on informing the public at large about the validated
knowledge that has been produced. Examples of the former are nation-wide
information campaigns, while the latter refers to articles in the
science sections of newspapers and popular science journals, and
presentation on information days. However, the impact of these one-way,
top-down communication activities on the mutual attuning of
technological innovations and societal demands is not high. New
approaches are recently developed to stimulate two-way (interactive)
communication between scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and end
users. For example, patients and health professionals meet with
(bio)medical researchers in constructive dialogue sessions.
Underlying the complexity as outlined above is the idea that social
systems, including academia, are rigid by nature. This implies that all
innovations, being techno-social, organisational or cultural, run into
resistance from the incumbent regime. Building on the notion of
complexity, the course offers insight into the field of system
innovations and transitions; a rapidly developing academic field in
which innovative practices work together with academia in order to
fundamentally change socio-technical systems and solve complex problems.


Interactive lectures, Discourse meetings, interviews with researchers.
Essay writing and feedback meetings.


Central in the course are analytical written assignments, meant to show
you gained insight in, and understanding of the themes and theories
discussed and investigated. Grading is based on a portfolio containing
these assignments.

Vereiste voorkennis

Participant in the FALW honours program.


Chapters from ‘Knowledge co-creation’, literature about science
communication and about system innovations and transitions.
All will be provided for through Canvas.

Overige informatie

This course runs yearly from April till June

Afwijkende intekenprocedure

Send an email to T.J.Schuitmaker@vu.nl.

Algemene informatie

Vakcode A_HP002
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode Ac. Jaar (sept)
Vakniveau 400
Onderwijstaal Engels
Vakcoördinator dr. T.J. Schuitmaker-Warnaar
Examinator dr. T.J. Schuitmaker-Warnaar

Praktische informatie

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