UTFacultiesBMSRESTSGeneral Information

General Information

RESTS: Reflection in the Bachelor Programmes at the University of Twente

With the introduction of TOM or the Twente Educational Model, the University of Twente has given a unique shape to academic reflection in its bachelor programmes. By integrating reflection on science, technology, and society in modules and projects, rather than offering it as a separate set of courses, the University of Twente goes much further than many other universities in terms of integration and connection to actual issues within specific disciplines and fields. For UT academics, reflection on science, technology, and society belongs to their central competencies and is fully integrated into their academic training.

REflection on Science, Technology and Society (RESTS)

The University Board of the University of Twente in 2013 requested two sections (Philosophy and Knowledge, Transformation & Society [KiTeS, former CHEPS | STePS]) to develop and teach courses in what was henceforth to be called REflection on Science, Technology and Society, or simply ‘RESTS’. These two sections have a strong, international reputation in the Philosophy of Technology and in Science and Technology Studies. Between 2013 and 2023, these courses have been developed, in close communication between the Bachelor programmes and the RESTS groups. An integrative approach is followed, connecting RESTS elements close to the content of the programmes, and raising reflexive questions ‘from within’, as a natural element of the work in a specific field.

The strength of the ‘UT approach’ is shown precisely in this close connection between education in academic reflection and the discipline-specific content of the programmes. Rather than offering generic courses in history, sociology, philosophy, or ethics, the University of Twente chooses to use the concrete content of the individual programmes as a starting point and a basis to build upon.

Courses and modules include the ethics of dealing with risk in engineering projects; reflection on the implications of interdisciplinary cooperation and on the quality of design research; the history and foundations of specific fields like mathematics, physics, and chemistry; value sensitive design; governance of innovation processes; reflection on participating in societal discussions about the risks and opportunities of new technologies – just to mention a few examples.

In all RESTS education, three focal points can be distinguished, connecting to the three O’s that have a central place in Twente education: science (connecting to ‘onderzoeken’ / ‘research’), technology (connecting to ‘ontwerpen’ / ‘design’), and society (connecting to ‘organiseren’ / ‘organization’).

  1. Reflection on science typically takes shape in the philosophy and history of science. Also, science communication (interaction between science and society) and science policy is part of this type of reflection. Other interesting subjects are the quality of research, paradigms and uncertainty, integrity, interdisciplinarity, and the scientific character of design research.
  2. Reflection on technology takes shape in the history and philosophy of technology. The focus is on the interaction between technology development on the one hand and societal implications on the other. Interesting topics: human-technology relations; philosophy and ethics of design, script analysis, constructive technology assessment, history of technology, technology, and democracy.
  3. Reflection on society is primarily focused on the ethics of technology, professional responsibility, and governance of technology. UT programmes teach students to identify and address ethical questions in their professional practice and to understand and engage in policy-making regarding science and technology.

Currently, more than 10,000 hours of RESTS education are provided in 19 bachelor programmes at the University of Twente. RESTS education covers a vast array of topics, including the philosophy of science, the history of technology, science policy, research quality, inter- and transdisciplinarity, human-technology relations, ‘great thinkers’, design ethics, constructive technology assessment, technology and democracy, sustainable development, professional responsibility, and governance of technology. The intended learning outcome of all the modules in RESTS education is that students would be equipped to reflect systematically, critically and responsibly on the foundations, methods, and social implications of their own discipline, and on the mutual connections between science, technology, and society.