Master program

The aim of the GIST Research Master (MSc) degree program is to enable students to analyze the dynamics of sciences, technologies, innovations and their governance in all their complexities.

The GIST Research Master teaches you to understand thoroughly how social practice, policies and technoscientific phenomena mutually shape each other and thereby structure the world in which we live and work, consume and govern. You learn this by using systematic concepts, heuristics and methods to examine fascinating exemplary cases from past and present. You develop a sensorium for long-term aspects of GIST and, at the same time, you learn how to keep in step with current practices. The master program trains you in the most fruitful concepts and research methods of the social and historical sciences. All these insights provide you with a toolkit for successfully confronting the many, often puzzling, problems and promises presented by technosciences, their innovation and governance.

Genomics, robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, neurosciences and e-health are examples of fields that involve expectations of economic profit and concerns about social and cultural changes. They stir debate among many diverse actors and provide challenges for governance. Studying within the GIST Research Master will open your eyes to how enormously the sector of science, technology and research is growing, with huge importance for the economy and modern societies in general.

Current issues such as the technoscientific dimensions of energy policies and climate change scenarios, the assessment of large-scale technologies, massive governmental and private investment in sectors such as the life-sciences, the coordination between private and public organizations, and the creation of new products based on technoscientific research all point to the complexity of governance challenges, which often arise under conditions of constant change. The GIST Research Master program teaches you in a stimulating international environment how to orientate in and structure the new and complex realities, using both approved and innovative means. The ambition is to demystify the governance and innovation of sciences and technologies, to understand them as social processes in terms of practices, habits, rules, conflicts, compromises, discourses and narratives from the perspective of everyday situations up to the level of systems.

In terms of methodology, the program builds on its teaching staff’s broad-ranging expertise in qualitative research methods (discourse analysis, interviewing, participant observation, etc., and comparable methods from history), quantitative research methods (network analysis, surveys etc.), and policy-oriented and intervening methods (policy evaluation, etc.). The multi-level character of our research field calls for precise and empirically grounded theories.

The approaches most closely identified with Twente include the concepts of ‘evolving socio-technical landscapes’, ‘transitions of technical regimes’, the ‘multi-level perspective’ (MLP), the ‘co-evolutionary approach to reflexive governance’, ‘constructive technology assessment’ (CTA) and ‘strategic niche management’ (SNP) and cultural history. These have been very influential in shaping conceptual thinking about technological change among researchers and policymakers, throughout Europe and beyond. Participants in the program have the opportunity to work firsthand with the authors of and leading specialists in applying such approaches.

Studies of GIST, especially in the Twente tradition, have the dual potential of application to observing and informing actors in the field. But because there isn’t any one dominant theory or no single recipe for coping with all the ambiguities in the field, participants learn to adopt a constructivist position and constantly reflect on their own impact as well as on the development of images and the beliefs of partners in the manifold fields of the governance and innovation of sciences and technologies.

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