A different type of scientist
We try to educate people who can solve the global challenges of today and of the future. I don't think that my generation of scientists, who focus on one subject in very great detail, is capable of doing that. Therefore, we’re training a new generation with a broader knowledge base and a different set of skills.
As founder of the Maastricht Science Programme, it’s super cool to see what the programme has become over the last ten years. It’s really nice to have a different idea that brings a lot of criticism from others, and for it to end up in a programme with more than 400 students, more than 100 modules and almost unlimited choice. The diversity of courses and students is now enormous, but if you compare it to other programmes it’s still very personal and students and staff have a close connection. Also, our graduates end up in really amazing places. It’s an example to the rest of the world how modern education in the sciences should be.
Need for a different type of scientist
I came up with the idea for the MSP because I felt there was a need for a different type of science degree. I thought we were educating people for a past that wasn’t relevant anymore. At the MSP, we try to educate people who can solve the global challenges of today and of the future. I don't think that my generation of scientists, who focus on one subject in very great detail, is capable of doing that. Therefore, we’re training a new generation with a broader knowledge base and a different set of skills.
About 70% of our students are international. This internationality has happened inevitably because of who we are. We cannot solve global challenges or achieve things like the sustainable development goals without talking to and understanding one another and reaching a global consensus. And I think that’s what you automatically get in an international classroom, where you get a diverse set of people together with a diverse set of answers. That leads to a much richer discussion and the chances are then greater that you’ll come up with a good solution.
For me, the biggest wow moments are on the alumni days when students come back. I see students come in who I’d done the interview with, which at the time may have had mediocre marks but I saw potential. When I follow that student through MSP, then see what they do in a graduate programme and then come back, I see that, wow, they belong to the top of the world. Although, we have so many good and crazy people that you have wow moments every day when you teach here. And in an educational programme, you can really help change a person. It’s incredibly satisfying to feel like you’ve helped to shape somebody’s future and you can see they’re doing amazing things with it.