On Friday June 19th, 2015 more than 120 life scientists participated in the fourth biannual education seminar organised by the Graduate School of Life Sciences. The theme of this edition was ‘21st Century Skills in Life Sciences’ in which we wanted to discuss what 21st century skills are and wanted to answer the questions: What are the skills that future Life Scientists need? How should we educate our Master’s students? In addition, the 2015 winners of the best MSc and PhD course of the Graduate School of Life Sciences were announced.
The seminar was kicked off by keynote speaker dr. Tony Wagner, Doctor of Education, who connected with the Utrecht University hall from Harvard University live via video conference. Dr. Wagner gave an inspirational talk about what we should do to develop the capabilities of young people to become innovators. His experience and research showed that we should keep the passion of curiosity alive and teach the principles of: play, passion and purpose. The lecture was followed by a fruitful discussion with the audience via the two-way live stream.
After the keynote lecture, the award ceremony for best GSLS Master’s and PhD course of 2015 took place. Rebecca Stellato, MSc won the award for best Master’s course for 'Mixed Models' from the Master’s programme Epidemiology. The ‘Van Kinsbergen’ course coordinated by Dr. Edward Knol, from the Infection and Immunity programme, was awarded best PhD course.
The seminar was continued by dr. Hanno Cappon and concluded with a lecture from prof. Marian Joëls. Dr. Cappon, vice-president R&D Medical Nutrition at Danone, explained what Danone as a company needs of Life Scientists within R&D. When Master’s students graduate from the GSLS, Danone trusts that students have depth of technical expertise and scientific knowledge. However they also look for students with good developed soft skills. Prof. Joëls closed the seminar using examples from academia, which illustrate that nowadays, scientists need to be versatile and willing to walk many different paths during their careers. She argued that the ‘beaten path for a scientist’, which many students still envision for their own future, is really only attainable for a few of them. As a consequence, the skills in the 21st century a life scientist needs are changing and education should adjust accordingly.
The seminar was followed up by the valedictory lecture of prof. Dop Bär, entitled: Onder Wijzen. Prof. Bär gave us an overview of his career, touching on various subjects he thoughtwere the most important steps he made during his time as Programme Director Biomedical Sciences within the GSLS. If you missed it, his lecture was recorded and can be seen here (only in Dutch).