Solutions for complex societal problems are increasingly sought through the application of scientific principles. At the same time, developments in the sciences impact society, some of which may lead to societal questions and concerns. An example is the new genomics technologies for disease diagnosis. On the one hand, it may improve care and prevention, while on the other hand, it raises ethical concerns related to violation of privacy, stigma and discrimination. Addressing such complex problems is complicated in itself. It calls for the integration of knowledge from several scientific disciplines and cooperation between a wide variety of actors in society – ranging from government, industry and societal organizations to patients and consumers.
The aim of the Master programme Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences(MPA) is to provide students with an academic attitude and skills in the field of interdisciplinary research on the interface of beta science and society aiming to formulate strategies to solve complex societal problems in the health and life sciences. The program provides a broadening of the knowledge and skills from a bachelor scientific background in disciplines such as science, technology and society studies, policy science, and management studies. In the MPA program, the following core competencies are developed:
- Analysis of complex societal issues related to the health and life sciences
- Formulation and implementation of strategies to deal with complex societal problems by way of interdisciplinary research.
- Effective cooperation and communication with researchers from scientific disciplines other than health and life sciences and with societal actors.
The MPA program comprises four specializations with the following objectives:
- Health and Life Sciences-Based Policy: This specialization equips the graduate with insight into theories and strategies to address societal issues through governmental policy at various levels. Special knowledge and understanding are obtained in the discipline of policy analysis. Various forms of ‘governance’ and interactive policy-making in particular are discussed. In addition, the student acquires skills in data collection methods: from various written and digital sources to interviews and focus group sessions. Ultimately, the student is independently able to facilitate group processes for interactive policy-making and to apply various analytical tools to structure the multidisciplinary data towards strategically designed recommendations.
- Health and Life Sciences-Based Management and Entrepreneurship: This specialization equips the graduate with insight into the management process of translating scientific knowledge to societally relevant innovations in the health and life sciences. Relevant theories on management, leadership, finance and law are discussed. The graduate is able to develop and critically assess business plans and has acquired skills in relevant scientific data collection methods and analytical tools.
- International Public Health: This graduate acquires a wide-ranging insight into current and future challenges in international public health, their main causes, and applied and potential interventions. S/he obtains special knowledge on relevant concepts from various disciplines (including epidemiology, policy science, anthropology, management studies, biomedical sciences and health sciences). S/he has the ability to conduct scientific research in the field of international public health, addressing challenges and critically assessing the results of research. S/he acquires knowledge of current theory and the key research questions in this field and insight into its scientific and social relevance.
- Communication in the Health and Life Sciences: Communication about science issues takes place not only between peers but also between scientists and ‘end users’ like the general public. This makes it a complex and dynamic field of research and practice; e.g. patient participation in health research, the use and effects of media metaphors and hypes, and public understanding of emergent technologies. The graduate with this specialization has a theoretical understanding of the complex problems that arise during such communication processes and has developed the skills necessary to behave professionally at this interface in an attempt to enhance communication outcomes between actors in science and society.
- Community-based Health Technologies: Community health faces a number of challenges (e.g. changing demographics, long-term care under pressure, and increased demands of staff and resources) and technology can contribute to sustainable solutions for these challenges. The Master’s graduate with a specialization in community-based health technologies has the ability to engage with community members with the aim to identify their health-related needs and concerns. Furthermore, the graduate is able to collaborate with industrial technicians in order to develop health technologies that address the identified needs of the community, and is able to reflect on the impact that these new technologies have on community health. Therefore, the Master’s graduate obtains knowledge and insights from innovation sciences, and specific technological knowledge from relevant disciplines (i.e. physics, computer sciences and health sciences), as this enriches his/her understanding of the dynamics between front-line and emerging innovative technologies and community based health care.