European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology
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The European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology (ESST) is an association of universities who jointly teach and research in the field of social, scientific and technological developments. Universities from across Europe are members of the association, which was founded in 1991 and is registered as a non-profit organisation in Belgium.
Activities and ethos
ESST runs a programme of teaching and research devoted to science and technology studies, in both historical and contemporary perspectives. The ESST programme has affiliated faculty with strong interests in the intersections of science and technology with public policy, cultural change, and economic development. The activities of ESST are financed both by the member universities and by external sources,which have included DG XII, DG XXII and the General Secretariat of the European Commission. From 2004 to 2009 ESST was responsible for the co-ordination of Masters-level teaching activities within the EU's PRIME 'network of excellence' in policy studies of research and innovation.
The ESST programme is international in its outlook: it is a multicultural venture rooted in the teaching, research and scientific cultures of many European regions and countries, and in their wider social experience. The universities have developed a networked postgraduate programme focusing on the social, scientific and technological developments in Europe, which they teach in collaboration with each other. This involves substantial exchange of students and staff from the participating universities.
ESST Masters degree
The ESST association offers a master's degree in "Society, Science and Technology in Europe", aims to develop informational resources, analytical skills and conceptual frameworks for researchers and students in technological change and innovation. The course is designed to provide post-graduate training for academics of all backgrounds: social science, natural sciences, engineering and humanities.
The Masters course is based on active participation by people from industry and engineering, policy-makers and academia from all over Europe. The approach is inter-disciplinary, based on recent results from research at the frontiers of modern studies of science/technology and economy/society. The course aims to relate such research to the social and economic analysis of innovation, to strategic decision-making and management of sciences and (new) technologies, to ethical issues in sciences and technology, and to political and cultural analysis of modern science- and technology-based societies.
The original ESST Master's degree was a one-year course, and this can still be taken by students who start at Oslo or Maastricht University. At other universities the ESST programme is a 'track' embedded in a two-year masters programme. At most ESST universities students receive both a local Masters award and the ESST MA Diploma.
All ESST universities that offer the first semester teach a common curriculum (with some local additions) in this semester, after which students choose a second-semester specialisation from the range on offer at the different universities within ESST. Students have the option either to move between universities (and countries) after the first semester or to stay at one university for both semesters; Erasmus Programme agreements are in place to assist students who move between countries. All second-semester specialisations are taught in English. The Masters thesis is supervised by an advisor at the second-semester university (supplemented by a 'home' advisor where appropriate) and the thesis is graded by staff from two ESST universities, one of whom is always from the first-semester university.
Starting in 2012-13, students who successfully complete course modules that cover the common first-semester ESST curriculum, but who do not go on to take (or complete) a second-semester ESST specialisation and write a thesis under ESST rules, will receive an ESST Certificate in addition to their local award.
Undergraduate essay award
Since 2010, ESST has awarded an annual prize (currently worth €1000) for the best undergraduate essay submitted to ESST with content relevant to the broad field of society, science and technology. Previous winners include André Feldhof (Netherlands), Miklós Horváth (Hungary), Alina Marktanner (Netherlands), and Frederick Thielen (Netherlands). More information on the ESST Award can be found at the ESST website.
Masters programme universities
The following universities offer the ESST programme's first-semester curriculum. Please note the language of teaching (given in brackets):
- Aarhus University, Denmark (English)
- National Technical University of Athens/National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greek)
- Linköping University, Sweden (English)
- Maastricht University, the Netherlands (English)
- Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain (Spanish)
- University of Oslo, Norway (Norwegian)
- Strasbourg University, France (French)
In addition to the above, the following universities offer second-semester specialisations and thesis supervision within the ESST programme (all specialisations are taught in English):
- Aalborg University, Denmark
- Lisbon University, Portugal
- University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
- Namur University, Belgium
- Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
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