“The words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” President Biden's speech on violence at the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021.
Enter into a dialogue
Having a good conversation has become more difficult in the current, increasingly polarized, social and political climate. But looking at a problem through the eyes of another, thus entering into a dialogue, is essential to overcome differences and create an inclusive society. This master track provides you with the theoretical means to understand the role of language and communication in health-related contexts, as well as with the skills to promote dialogue and critically reflect on its outcome.
“We’re going to have to find ways to rebuild both a common narrative and a fidelity to truth.” Former US-president Barack Obama (2020)
Understanding language use in everyday life
The programme starts with laying a sound theoretical foundation for understanding language use in everyday and institutional contexts. You, for example, learn to analyse how treatment options are negotiated between doctors and patients, how neonatal care is discussed with parents, and how anti-vaccine movements operate on social media.
Want to know more about how we connect insights about language use in everyday life with contemporary health problems? Listen to "Dialogue against the tide. Beyond value shyness"/"Dialoog tegen de stroom in. De waardenschaamte voorbij" (Inaugural Lecture professor Te Molder, in Dutch).
Uniquely, the connection with professional practice is already built during the study programme itself. Your academic internship is set up in close collaboration with health organisations in the field. And in some courses, your fellow students are professionals who already work in the field.
There is a great demand for academically trained dialogue or conversation specialists in the health area, in their role of independent consultants, researchers, facilitators, mediation experts or patient educators. Especially where scientific expertise is at stake or citizen participation of great importance, insight is required into how to create and sustain a fruitful dialogue between government and citizen, or between professionals and patients or clients. Think of health institutes such as the Dutch RIVM, Ministries for Health, but also pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, hospices, addiction care, international NGOs and the WHO.
Connecting theory, research, practice, and policy to tackle contemporary societal issues
In the last couple of years, we have been confronted with an unprecedented number of societal crises ranging from growing concerns regarding climate change to the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation around vaccines. To tackle emerging societal issues, we need to rethink policies in light of new evidence provided by recent research and theoretical advances from across different disciplines. This programme uniquely combines insights from communication studies, psychology, sociology, and health sciences and brings them to bear on identifying possible solutions to contemporary problems. Due to their distinctive expertise, teaching staff on the programme are frequently invited to advise private and public organisations as well as share their opinions on a range of issues related to fostering dialogue and improving health communication. The MA courses will include discussions of pertinent real-life case studies involving contemporary societal problems like the crisis of faith in science or the proliferation of anti-vax protests, thus stimulating you to critically evaluate alternative solutions in order to provide sound and practicable advice.