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Category Archives: education

Why You Should Study What You Love

1. Money ≠ Happiness

A 2010 study by Tim Judge shows what we’ve heard all along: money doesn’t buy happiness.  If you study something that you don’t enjoy in the hopes of getting a job that you don’t enjoy, but that pays well, there’s a good chance, you won’t be happy.  You’ll just have lots of money.  The results of that study show that the correlation between salary and job satisfaction is weak.  Corollary: if you want to engage with your job, money isn’t the answer—it doesn’t buy engagement (see #2).

2. Engagement

You can go through the motions of a job or course of study for which you don’t care and do just fine.  But why would you want to?  You can pursue something you love and have a job you like less—but the ideal?  Pursue something you love, engage in it, and let it drive your job search and your life.  Studies show that to be engaged in your work, you need to find something that gives you meaning and that you enjoy doing.  The desire to do what you want will allow you to engage in your work and feel inspired (see #3).

3. Inspiration

Not only will you feel inspired by engaging in meaningful work that you’re passionate about—you’ll inspire others, too.  When you’re excited about what you’re doing, your co-workers will benefit from your positive energy.  People who see you doing something you love for work will feel inspired to do the same.

Consider Nikki Lee, of Sydney Australia, who quit her corporate job to follow her dream of becoming a baker—and succeeding.  She says it’s “one of the most satisfying things” she’s ever done.  Feel inspired?

4. Doesn’t Matter What Others Think

Study something you care about, learn everything you can, do your best work, and don’t waste your breath on people who try to bring you down.  Typically, humanities majors face the brunt of criticism from parents, friends, and even some professors.  While their intentions may be kind (or maybe not), what you choose to study is yours—make sure you care about it, and don’t get too wrapped up in any hot air others might feel the need to share with you.  A polite, “Thanks, but I love it,” will usually do the trick.

5. University ≠ Job Training

Learn lots at university and worry about job training later.  Do a summer internship, if you’re that worried.  The key is to engage in university in subjects that tickle your brain—and take that passion with you when you look for a job.  The purpose of a university education, once upon a time, was to give you the time and space to study something that interested you—and learn how to read, write, think, and talk about it—all skills that you need to have in the workplace anyway.

University time is one of the few in your life when you have unrestricted time to delve deeply into subjects you love—and new subjects about which you know nothing.  It’s a time to learn and figure yourself out—inasmuch that’s possible.  Enjoy it.  Get the job of your dreams later.

6. Opportunity

Studying something you love can open doors.  You may not realize that by studying English literature as an undergraduate could lead you to a career in medicine.  If you love drama, study it—you can act, teach, write… or even work in a lab.  Employers want to hire employees who are passionate about what they do.  As your passions evolve, so will opportunities.  Cast a wide net, study what you love, and you’ll find opportunities—some might even find you.

Of course, we realize that there are plenty of stories of passions gone awry.  Things go awry for different reasons—loss of focus, settling for mediocre.  If you stick with something that you love and want to learn more about, do your best, strive for excellence, and have integrity, studying what you love may just translate into a job that you love, too.

Four Things You Need to Know About Making a Career in Comedy

1. You don’t need a degree in the field.

Degrees in comedy are few and far between. And while the value of programs like the University of Kent’s MA in Stand Up Comedy is undeniable (any working comedian will tell you that practice makes perfect), there are also plenty of ways to get the experience you need on and around campus. In fact, taking different coursework — for example, political science studies — can give you upper-level insights….and plenty of fresh material.

But even if you don’t do any of these things in college, you can still pursue a career in comedy.  Rodney Dangerfield, Ricky Gervais, Phyllis Diller, Larry David and Lisa Lampanelli are just a few examples of famous comedians who started late.

2. Extracurriculars can pave the path.

Joining a college sketch group, taking an improv class, and attending comedy performances can all help you start creating and honing your craft. If your college doesn’t have a sketch or improv group, consider starting your own. In addition to building your skills amidst like-minded comedy lovers, you’ll also score extra points for leadership.

An added bonus? As Matt Lappin, segment producer on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and “Strangers with Candy” writer, told Writer’s Digest, “Getting noticed is a bit of a crapshoot. A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time.”  The takeaway? Because there is an element of luck when it comes to getting discovered, the more you put yourself out there, the more your work will be seen, heard and eventually noticed.

3. Critical thinking and writing skills matter.

According to the website Creative Stand Up, a flexible range of writing skills is essential to a successful standup career.  Also imperative? The ability to think critically, and write well. Creative writing courses are a great place to start, especially if they’re geared towards comedy like the Writing and Producing Comedy course offered by NFTS.

According to humorist Mary Hirsch, “Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” The best comedy isn’t just funny. It also serves a higher purpose in becoming social commentary that makes people think. A recent piece published on the website Humanity in Action highlights the role comedy plays in “holding up a mirror and forcing us to confront realities that we would often prefer to ignore.”

This is evidenced no more clearly than Octavia Spencer’s recent opening SNL monologue about the confusion between her award-winning movie Hidden Figures and two other films, Fences and Moonlight: “So many people have been coming up to me saying, ‘I loved Hidden Fences!’ … I get it, there were three black movies at the Oscars this year. And that’s a lot for Americans. So if you’re going to get confused anyway, I thought I might as well make some money off it. That’s why I produced Hidden Fence Light.”

While these kinds of jokes may seem breezy and off the cuff, this type of comedy writing is actually an intensive and reflective act. Consider this explanation of joke-writing from The Science PT podcast: “Many jokes are based on observational humor. The first thing a comic will do is make observations about the world around them and common life experiences….Then they will examine one of those observations and think about the common ways that most people intuitively interpret that observation (the more universal the better)….At this point the comic must look for alternative interpretations that no one else has considered but are just as true, if not more so…The more the alternative interpretation is unintuitive yet true, the funnier it is.”

4. A writing buddy will make you better.

Many working comedians swear by the value of collaboration. As Comedy Workshop Productions president Judy Carter said in an interview with Experience, “People who just write material at a computer sound too literary. You want to create material in the presence of another human being, so you can see it on his face when he’s bored.”

Former staff writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and multiple Writer’s Guild Award winner and Emmy nominee Roy Jenkins echoed the sentiment, telling Writer’s Digest, “When you’re writing around a table, you hope you’re not in an environment that’s totally competitive; that you’re all pulling on the same oar. There’s always going to be an element of competitiveness. When it’s friendly, it’s fun. The idea is to go back and forth to the point where it’s hard to say who came up with what in the script. Everybody pushed and pulled it. That’s the best, when nobody is keeping score. You’re just having fun.”

One last thing to keep in mind? Thomas Edison’s famous saying, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration,” absolutely applies to the world of comedy.  In other words, making it in comedy isn’t all laughs; it also takes a huge amount of work, persistence and perseverance. The truth is that all comedians fail before they succeed, but that’s part of the process. As John Friedman, producer and host of the cult-hit “The Rejection Show” and author of Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled told Writer’s Digest, “Trust your own instincts and take risks. It’s OK to write something that doesn’t work and, when you do, try to think of it as one step closer to writing something great.”

Why Working in Sustainable Tourism Can Make the World A Better Place

1. Fast-growing Economic Sector

One of the fastest growing sectors not just in tourism, but in the whole economy, sustainable tourism stimulates economic growth and job creation.  When tourism is “sustainable,” there is an implied permanence—and a conservation of resources.  As sustainable tourism takes off, the need for jobs to protect wildlife, biodiversity, and fragile ecosystems for people to visit becomes clear—as does the need for experts who can act as “tour guides” of a sustainable tourist destination.

2. Tourism Linked to Development

Sustainable tourism generates jobs, which generates increases in incomes, which creates options for people—and allows them to improve their quality of life.

Consider the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an international development agency that promotes private entrepreneurship in the developing world.  One of their subsidiaries includes Tourism Promotion Services, which owns and manages 26 hotels, resorts, lodges, and camps in Africa and Asia—all under one brand name.  Their goal?  To catalyze local growth of private sector ventures by coalescing international investment, business skills, and local knowledge.  AKFED focuses on using local or regional suppliers whenever possible, relying on local networks, offering internship opportunities for local youth, and building local infrastructure, in addition to building its properties.  One project that AKFED has encouraged?  Access to clean drinking water in places where they have projects.

For more examples of how tourism and development are linked, check out Harvard University’s report on “The Role of the Tourism Sector in Expanding Economic Opportunity.”

3. Support of Marginalized Voices

When local people in local communities have a voice in projects that are bigger than they are (see #2), there is a greater likelihood that they will gain the confidence and skills to speak out about issues affecting them.

For example, orphans are a group of people who are notoriously marginalized.  Despite that the number of orphans has declined world-wide, the number of orphanages has increased in developing countries.  Why? An overwhelming number of generally well-intentioned Western tourists who want to travel and volunteer to “do good.”

Sustainable tourism moves away from the concept of “do-good” travel and avoids models that allow tourists or local economies to exploit and capitalize on the misfortune of others.  Instead, sustainable tourism is built on the idea that communities can capitalize on their own resources to attract interested travelers. Rather than taking advantage of marginalized groups, sustainable tourism can give those voices a chance to speak out.

4. Variety of Jobs to Local Communities

Communities that have poor material wealth, but a wealth of culture, history, and heritage have an advantage.  Hotels, restaurants, adventure guides, food suppliers, and other needs for goods and services have the opportunity to provide high-paying, stable jobs for local residents.  Within those places are needs for tour guides, translators, cooks, cleaners, drivers, hotel managers and staff, and other needs, like access to medical care—which translates to a need for doctors and nurses.

As local communities develop around tourist centers, local families can settle.  The needs for other infrastructure become apparent: schools, health care centers, and roads—and the people to maintain them.

5. Rise of Responsible Travel

As sustainability becomes more mainstream in tourism, more tourists are opting to travel “responsibly.”  In 2016, theCenter for Responsible Travel reported that 50 million more tourists traveled internationally in 2015 than in 2014.  They cite the “social and environmental imperative” for responsible travel growing partly in response to the rate of climate change.  They cite research studies that show travelers consider eco-friendly practices when traveling, and that traveling for traveling’s sake is less of an appeal than traveling with a purpose and some research.

6. Earn Your Degree in Sustainable Tourism

Interested in becoming part of sustainable tourism?  Earn a degree that will prepare you for the opportunities and challenges of this emerging industry.

Consider the School of Tourism and Hospitality—The Ostelea.  With campuses in Barcelona and Madrid, the school offers hospitality courses in both English and Spanish.  Take a look at their Master’s in Sustainable Tourism Destinations and Territorial Tourism Planning.  You’ll also have the opportunity to learn the marketing side of sustainable travel and have a sense of how to move forward in this exciting field.

Italy is well-known as a destination for tourism studies, and the European Institute of Design offers a Masters in Design in sustainable tourism. Or look to Portugal, where you can earn a Master in Sustainable Tourism Management from the Polytechnic of Leiria.

8 Inspiring Women Artists Worth Getting to Know

1.Hildegard of Bingen

She lived most of her life in solitude in a hilltop Rhineland monastery more than 900 years ago, but her legacy is a lasting one.  According to Classic FM, “This remarkable woman had left behind a treasure-trove of illuminated manuscripts, scholarly writings and songs written for her nuns to sing at their devotions.” And yet her name didn’t even appear in a reference book prior to 1979.

While in her lifetime Hildegard’s work was never heard beyond the walls of the remote convent where she lived, Today, she is regarded as one of the first known composers of music in Western history, and praised for her “sublime, life-affirming” music. After all, how many 12th century works can claim contemporary hit status? That’s exactly what Hildegard accomplished when her song A Feather on the Breath of God sung by soprano Emma Kirby enjoyed popular success in the 1980s.

2. Sofonisba Anguissola

The life of a female artist during the Renaissance and Baroque periods was anything but easy. While their male counterparts were being heralded as virtuoso, AKA “mortal Gods,” they were denied by critics who regarded them as the “passive sex” and unworthy of wielding the painter’s brush. Says Artsy, “These women fervently fought back, developing innovative painting techniques and advancing younger generations of female artists, teaching them to eschew the men who would try to stifle their development.”

One of the female Renaissance artists who is now globally recognized for her contributions to both the genre of portraiture and gender conventions. Sofonisba Anguissola, whose groundbreaking Self Portrait with Bernardino Campi (1550) is described by Artsy as “a nearly 500-year-old rejection of patriarchal authority.”

3. Agnes Denes

This Hungarian-born American conceptual artist is celebrated for her work in a huge range of media, including everything from poetry to sculpture and beyond. Her best-known work, the environmental installation Wheatfield — A Confrontation (1982), juxtaposed two acres of wheat in the heavily populated spaces, rubble-strewn spaces in lower Manhattan. Denes has said that her motivations for the work “grew out of a long-standing concern and need to call attention to our misplaced priorities and deteriorating human values.”

In her book, Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions, Barbara Matilsky wrote, “The project was an exuberant and daunting task celebrating the tenacity of life. By creating an artwork with wheat, a grain planted throughout the world, Denes also called attention to hunger and the mismanagement of resources. Wheat was transformed into a symbol, as the artist’s work highlighted incongruities…The activities of the city and the countryside came together for a brief time. After harvesting, the hay was fed to the horses stabled by the New York City Police Department and some of the grain traveled around the world in the exhibition “International Art Show for the End of World Hunger” organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art, 1987-90). The ecological cycle was thereby complete.”

4. Rachel Whiteread

Before the age of 40, British artist Rachel Whiteread had already received the annual Turner Prize, and she’d been chosen as one of several Young British Artists to exhibit at the Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition. Today, she lives and works in London.

Says Gagosian of her work, “Rachel Whiteread’s approach to sculpture is predicated on the translation of negative space into solid form. Casting from everyday objects, or from spaces around or within furniture and architecture, she uses materials such as rubber, dental plaster and resin to record every nuance. In recent large-scale works, the empty interiors of wooden garden sheds were rendered in concrete and steel, recalling the earlier architectural works Ghost (1990), House (1993), and the imposing concrete sculpture Boathouse (2010), installed on the water’s edge in the remote Nordic landscape of Røykenviken.”

5. Georgia O’Keeffe

In giving 20th century painter Georgia O’Keeffe a spot on its list of “The 10 Most Subversive Women Artists in History,” The Guardian explained, “Compared with some artists in this list she may seem soft, but her cussed exploration of her own body and soul mapped out a new expressive freedom for women making art in the modern age.”

Largely regarded as a pioneer of American art, she produced thousands of works throughout her career, and was most known for her depictions of flowers, skyscrapers, animal skulls, and southeastern landscapes. She received both the Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts for her contributions.

Of her work O’Keeffe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

6. Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

In addition to painting Marie Antoinette more than 30 times in her capacity as the queen’s personal portrait painter, she also left behind more than 600 portraits and 200 landscapes.

What separates Vigée Le Brun from the others on this list? She was famous in her own time as one of France’s most popular portraitists. After fleeing France during the French Revolution, she was welcomed by the aristocrats of Europe — including Russia’s Queen Catherine — who continued to commission her fashionable signature work.  She eventually returned to France, where she painted such luminaries as the Prince of Wales, Caroline Murat (Napoleon’s sister) and author Germaine de Staël.

7. Harriet Powers

This southern African American quilt maker born a slave in Georgia in 1837 is well-known for her extraordinary work which depicted scenes from both American history and the Bible using the applique technique. Today, Powers has only two surviving story quilts: One is now part of the National Museum of American History collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. while the other is on exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Says the Georgia Encyclopedia, “Powers’s quilts are remarkable for their bold use of applique for storytelling and for their extensive documentation. Her use of technique and design demonstrates African and African American influences. The use of appliqued designs to tell stories is closely related to artistic practices in the republic of Benin, West Africa. The uneven squares suggest the syncopation found in African American music.”

8. Lavinia Fontana

It’s hardly a surprise that Italian painter Lavinia Fontana has been categorized as a “subversive and inspirational” artist. After all, she was the first woman artist to paint female nudes. She also boasts the largest documented body of work among female artists before 1700.

Says the National Museum of Women in the Arts of Fontana, “She made great strides in the field of portraiture, which garnered her fame within and beyond Italy. In fact, Fontana is regarded as the first woman artist, working within the same sphere as her male counterparts, outside a court or convent.”

While certainly women’s contributions to art are recognized more now than they were in the past, gender inequality is still an issue as women remain underrepresented throughout the art world. (Need more proof? Check out the numbers for yourself.) Which begs the question: Are you up for the challenging of doing your part to “put an end to sexism in art?”  If so, a master’s degree program in Art may be the perfect place to start.

Why it’s Never Too Late for A Master’s in Design Studies

1. STEM and Design

STEM and design go hand-in hand.  Design work requires critical thinking and planning to solve complicated, community-based problems. When STEM students consider projects like building a self-propelled vehicle, or designing a sustainable garden ecosystem, they need to draw on their scientific knowledge in addition to their design knowledge.

When Steve Jobs designed the first Macintosh computers, he cared as much about the engineering and programming as he did about the aesthetic and form of the product—that the appearance of the product should match the seamlessness of the math and science behind it—even down to the font.

2. Business and Design

A great business idea isn’t going to work without great design.  They go hand-in-hand.  At the center of any business plan is user experience, or UX.  Design helps business students understand how user experience and design interface are related.  Business majors should focus on learning UX principles.  What does this mean?

Make your product data-driven.  Test and tweak your product until your data shows which UX configurations work the best.  This way, users tell you about their experience, and you design based on that.

Practice.  Mockup your design with good old-fashioned paper and pencil.  Design a website, an app, or even a popular product’s homepage.  Why?  It forces you to think about translating user needs to interface.

Get inspired.  Study well-designed websites to figure out how the designers maximized UX.

3. Humanities, Social Sciences, and Design

Design is embedded in our everyday lives—with the intent to improve standards of living for people.  How we listen to music.  How we talk to people.  How we buy food.  How we consume media.  How we go to the doctor.  How we use transportation.  How we raise our children.  Where we live and why.

Design education promotes visual literacy—from signs, symbols, emblems, pictures, and emojis, design is intrinsic to our daily perceptions of the world around us.

Its focus on critical thinking encourages designers in the humanities and social sciences to re-imagine how we think about the world’s problems: pollution, overpopulation, poverty, hunger, healthcare—and how we create positive “user” experiences to solve those problems.

Multidisciplinary students considering design should consider two places to study to get the most from their design studies, both in Milan: the Nuova Academia Di Belle Arte, Milano (NABA), and Domus Academy.

What’s unique about them?  Well, they’re both in Milan, Italy, for one—the axis of the design world.  With design stars like Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Versace, to name a few, you’ll be in good company.

Both programs offer an interdisciplinary methodology, experts in the field, an integration between education and research, and a global reach. And both programs offer scholarship competitions for international students. An added bonus – if you earn a scholarship, you not only help fund your studies but you get to work with prestigious international companies that have partnereed with NABA and Domus Academy.

NABA specifically offers postgraduate work for designers looking to hone their skills in communication design, creative advertising, product design, interior design, and visual design.

Domus Academy focuses on creating postgraduate programs in business and fashion that maximize students’ real-world design experiences.  At the heart of Domus Academy’s program is the internship.  With alumni including Vogue editor-at-large Anna della Russo, and students who secure jobs at big companies like Nokia, Whirlpool, Gucci, LG, Microsoft, and Ford, Domus Academy will guide you towards success.

Why Smart Cities and Engineers are a Perfect Fit

The global market for smart cities is projected to skyrocket to US$1.2 trillion by the year 2020, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. The potential benefits of smart cities are many, including higher quality of life, more equitable opportunities for all; unparalleled social, environmental and economic growth; increased participation from smart citizens; massive consumption reductions in both energy and water; and enhanced interconnectivity, communication and response, including during natural and manmade calamities.

All of which begs the question: What, exactly, is a smart city? In setting out to answer this question, The Pew Charitable Trusts ultimately came up with the following conclusion: It depends on who you ask.

Brooks Rainwater of the National League of Cities told Pew, “The concept of a smart city is somewhat amorphous, but it’s focused on cities leading with technological innovation,” while Jesse Berst of the Smart Cities Council said, ““It’s just using digital technology to improve community life.” Kansas City’s innovation analyst Kate Garman summed it up as “a paradigm shift in the way we think.”

The Hindu Times, meanwhile, offers the following, more specific definition: “A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.”

While the definition may be somewhat slippery, we can all agree that smart cities do share some common characteristics, with mobility and connectivity at their core. But these bedrocks of smart cities ultimately serve a higher purpose: the wellbeing of inhabitants.

In discussing smart city features which not only make our environments more efficient, but also safer, friendlier and cleaner, David Perry, Director of Development and International Affairs at Lille, France’s HEI: Hautes Etudes d’Ingénieur, told Masterstudies, “We need to find solutions to what 20th century urbanism has left out, that is urban life metabolism and the flows that connect us to nature. What we take in, what we give off — circular economies.”

Where Are the Smart Cities?

Smart cities may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the truth is that they’re alive and well all over the world. When asked to name a few of the globe’s smart cities, Perry rolled off an impressive list: “To name just a few prominent examples which demonstrate the variety of Smart Cities worldwide, we could mention: Digital Greenwich and London, England; Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba in Brazil; Paris and Lille in France; Yangon and Mandalay in Myanmarand Thessaloniki, Greece.” He continued, “There are many more. Barcelona, Amsterdam, Marrakech and others on all continents. Let’s not forget the great cities of Mumbai, Singapore and Jakarta or the cities of Mexico City and New York.

In this breadth and depth or examples of urban development and connectivity, lies the “nature and attraction of smart cities,” according to Perry.

Investing in the tremendous potential of smart cities is imperative, says smart city and IT Expert Vasco Gonçalves, CEO of consulting agency SDNC sàrl, who recently called for The European Union Commission, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to commit to investing in “experimental city and make all the data available for free to European industries, universities and the rest of the world, or for a little fee, so that everybody, including small businesses, have a chance to participate.”

How Do You Fit In?

Universities — and engineers, in particular — are stepping up as leaders in the shift to smart cities. Take the five-year-old SunRise smart city project out of Lille University’s Civil Engineering and Geo-Environment Laboratory (LGCgE). This large-scale experiment involves the building of a model smart city where a team of engineers could undertaking planning and testing while gathering data toward creating the true embodiment of the concept with optimal resilience and sustainability at the forefront.

Of course, smart cities don’t happen on their own. A vital part of the equation? Smart people with ICT knowledge to innovate and implement the technology. If you’re looking to become a leading contributor in the field, a Master of Science and Engineering (MSE) in Smart Cities from HEI can help you gain the training you need to succeed.

Not only does HEI’s prime Lille location offer first-hand experience with smart living, but it also boasts numerous other benefits for aspiring engineers in this field, including plenty of opportunities for practical experience thanks to internships and a future-oriented curriculum.

One of the program’s most noteworthy features, says Perry? It’s student-oriented approach. He said, ““We are concerned about the future for us, our students’ careers and our Industrial stakeholders. We have been for 130 years. Our graduates are successful in their chosen professions, globally oriented, Multicultural and multilingual world citizens who easily adapt to their respective career environments.”

Smart cities aren’t without their share of challenges pertaining to everything from scalability to security. With training and tools from HEI, however, engineering grads are uniquely positioned to play a key role in transforming these obstacles into something else: opportunities.

Do You Have a Future in Hurricane Disasters Prevention?

What are Atmospheric Sciences?

NASA defines atmospheric science as “the study of the physics and chemistry of clouds, gases, and aerosols (airborne particles) that surround the planetary bodies of the solar system.” It comprises a number of specialties, including climatology; dynamic meteorology; cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry; atmospheric physics; aeronomy; and oceanography.

Graduates with degrees in atmospheric sciences can be found working in a broad range of environments, including for the government, private weather services, the media, commercial airlines, state governments, colleges and universities, public utility companies, consulting firms, and aircraft and instrument manufacturing companies across areas comprising field research, laboratory studies, and computer analysis and modeling.

Why Atmospheric Sciences Matter

Barring the opinions of climate change disbelievers, hard science tells us that climate change is not only very real, but it’s packing a wallop in the form of extreme and unprecedented weather.

Explains Dr. Antti Lauri, Programme Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Master’s Programme at Finland’s University of Helsinki, “Hurricanes get their energy from condensation of water vapor over warm tropical oceans. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act to warm the atmosphere and the oceans. This leads to larger evaporation from the ocean and stronger condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere. Therefore, in suitable conditions, hurricanes can grow more intense, with stronger winds and more precipitation.”

As a result, there is a critical need for experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and earth system. And as knowledge continues to expand and as new regulations and directives are implemented, people who understand this complex issue from a scientific point of view will be tasked with navigating the challenges ahead.

What, specifically, can atmospheric studies do to mitigate hurricane disasters? Continues Lauri, “In the short term, the simplest way is to discourage building in areas most prone to hurricane disasters. It is of course also possible to adapt by building stronger structures, introducing new alarm systems based on more accurate scientific results about the forming and evolution of hurricanes, and ultimately by introducing climate engineering methods such as injecting cooling sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.”

As far as the long-term goal of preventing stronger and more threatening hurricanes from developing, Lauri calls for a strong decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, which can be achieved through strategies including the use of renewable sources in energy production and afforestation.

Be at the Forefront of Hurricane Disaster Prevention….in Finland?

Finland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of hurricanes, but the University of Helsinki is not only home to a national center of excellence in the field of atmospheric sciences, but also plays host to global experts in the field.  Students in the program are exposed to word-class teaching and cutting-edge research while also having the unique opportunity to collaborate with dozens of research groups from around the world.

Equally as important, insists Lauri, is the programme’s multidisciplinary approach across physics, chemistry, meteorology, geophysics of the hydrosphere, and biology. “Our master’s programme in atmospheric sciences focuses in the holistic understanding of the earth system,” he says. “We work on different levels, from sub-atomic processes to understand the chemical reactions in the atmosphere to models describing the whole earth system.”

Still wondering why you’d undertake tropically related studies in a decided non-tropical location like Finland? You don’t have to live in a hurricane-impacted area to understand these storms and to play a role in defending the earth and its people from their devastation they cause. Explains Lauri, “Hurricanes obey the same physical laws as other meteorological phenomenal. We teach meteorology and convection on a level, which allows the student to concentrate on different phenomena related to convection, such as a hurricane.”

Tips to Pick The Right Student Loan

 1. Federal v. Private

First thing you need to do is decide whether you want federal loans, private loans, or a combination of both.

If you’re an undergraduate borrowing on your own, go for a federal loan.  Federal loans are generally safer than private loans—they’re less expensive and they have flexible repayment options.  You can also avoid defaulting on them, which will protect your credit score.

How do they work?  Put simply, the federal government pays the interest on federal subsidized loans, like the Stafford and Perkins loans.  The government may also pay the interest during certain periods of deferment. And, depending on your loan and career choice, you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program.

Why would you choose a private loan?  If your credit score is high—at least 740—and you have a co-signer, then some private loan options might work better for you than federal loans.

Compare fixed and variable rates—if you plan on paying off your loan longer than its term, some of those variable rates might be appealing to you.  The other thing to consider?  Loan fees.  Run a compare and contrast of your options.

Feeling unsure?  Contact your university’s loan office and ask to speak to a Financial Aid officer.

2. Loan Calculator

Use one.  These are especially helpful when you’re comparing and contrasting rates and fees for private and federal loans.

The Repayment Estimator on is helpful because it tracks your monthly payment based on all the variables and types of loans involved.  Get a clear sense of what you’ll pay, how often, and for how long.

Make sure that your numbers are similar to the statement from your Financial Aid office.  If they’re not—ask.  Figure out why before you sign anything.

3. How much $$?

Decide how much you want to borrow—because that will be the amount you owe, plus interest, fees, and any other loan-related expenses.

Beware the variable interest rate, typically found in private loans.  Variable interest rates do as their name implies.  They change.  They increase over time.

Borrowing a lot of money from a private lender can work, even with a variable interest rate provided you know that you’ll have the resources to pay it back quickly—don’t let that interest rate vary too much.

4. Loan Repayment Plan

That loan calculator (see #2) will start the process of thinking about this.  For private loans, your repayment is often decided before you take the loan.  Be sure to read the fine print before you sign anything on a private loan.

Your goal?  Pay as little interest as possible.  What does this mean?  Pay down your loans quickly, so less interest accrues.

For federal loans, there are three main types of loan repayment plans:

a.     Income-based: pay 10-25 percent of your discretionary income over 25 years

b.     Pay-as-you-earn: pay 10 percent of your discretionary income over 20 years

c.     Income contingent: pay a combo of a and b

You can also prepay your federal student loans provided you have sufficient income, or access to funds.

Deferring is another option—but a potentially dangerous one.  You can apply to put off paying back your loans for reasons like illness, further education, major injuries, and unemployment.  Deferring doesn’t erase interest, though.  Deferring often increases your debt burden.  Better not to defer, unless you can’t avoid it.

Confused?  Don’t be.  While the loan process is daunting, go step-by-step, and make sound decisions.  Ask questions when you have them.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If the people you ask don’t give you clear answers, find someone else to work with.  It’s your money—and your future.

Why You Should Do a Multidisciplinary Master’s Degree

 The 411 on Multidisciplinary Master’s Degrees

“The knowledge economy requires an adept workforce and cadre of leaders to help address the many challenges and needs facing companies, governments and societies worldwide,” according to a recent piece published in the academic journal, Palgrave Communications: “Many of the challenges we face today are new and there will undoubtedly be others arising in the future that will require innovative approaches and solutions to overcome them. No longer are higher education institutions able to train graduates to address all of the current and emerging challenges from a singular disciplinary source.”

Enter multidisciplinary studies. Rather than teaching students to look at a problem within one intensive yet narrow context, this growing field encourages them to draw on a broad range of sources and subject matter. Explains thePalgrave Communications article, “Higher education disciplinary approaches often tend to focus only on a set of trees within a great forest. While disciplinary experts are essential for understanding particular ways of knowing within specific fields of study, their perspectives in addressing larger and more complex issues is often limited.”

In other words, the ability to solve complex problems ultimately relies not on extensive knowledge of a single focus area, but on the ability to apply critical thinking skills to make connections, synthesize different perspectives, and acquire new knowledge — all toward supporting the development of invaluable holistic perspectives. After all, what good is a solution if, in its lack of a broader context, it only creates new problems elsewhere? In giving students the freedom to roam outside the conventional constraints of a single discipline while tailoring their own degree programs to meet their academic visions, multidisciplinary programs open new doors (and windows) for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders to devise new, comprehensive and lasting opportunities.

And contrary to common misconception, multidisciplinary studies aren’t just for students who don’t know what to study. Rather, a master’s degree in multidisciplinary studies can expand a student’s potential both within a specific area and also in terms of transferring that knowledge in the most meaningful and impactful ways (Note: if you aren’t yet sure of your career objectives, meanwhile, multidisciplinary studies can play a vital role in helping you narrow down your options).

An added benefit of allowing students to create and follow their own paths? They also develop a vested interest in their studies and are therefore more highly motivated.

Why Choose Multidisciplinary Studies at Hanze University?

Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS) in Groningen, the Netherlands sets the standard when it comes to multidisciplinary studies thanks to nine internationally recognized Master’s programs in business, communication, art,music and engineering.

For example, the aim of Hanze UAS’s European Master in Renewable Energy is to develop professionals capable of filling the gap between the growing industry demand for specialized renewable energy expertise and the skills currently available on the job market. An urgent demand also exists for trained staff specializing in renewable energy technology. Therefore the European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management’s focuses on the business aspect of energy transition and also offers an interesting career perspective.

The Master in Sensor System Engineering, meanwhile, prepares students for bright futures in the world of sensor technology, a subject area that is rapidly growing and which will provide all kinds of interesting career opportunities for ambitious engineers.

Lastly, the Master in International Business & Management offers a double degree with our partner university in Cambridge and has a unique boardroom concept that prepares students for complex decision making in a dynamic international business environment. (Interested in where the Master in International Communication will lead you? Watch this video to find out in which parts of the world some of our alumni have ended up.)

What do all of these programs share in common? They aren’t just focused on educating students, but also on cultivating tomorrow-ready leaders. With society facing more challenges than ever due to the increasing rate of globalization and digitalization, the demand for multidisciplinary teams of flexible and innovative experts in their fields is growing. Hanze UAS trains students to see issues and problems in their rightful context and from there to transform them into opportunities. Its Master’s programs build on the knowledge and abilities students have acquired during their undergraduate studies and encourage them to deepen their understanding within their areas of expertise while linking this knowledge to other relevant areas.

An added benefit of choosing Hanze UAS? Groningen is the place to be for students. A dynamic, innovative, thought leader in areas such as culture and technology, Groningen was recently crowned “Best Student City of the Netherlands 2016” by Dutch news magazine Elsevier and research firm ResearchNed. This vibrant city scored highest on measures of cultural hotspots, nightlife and restaurants, and relative student population.

In fact, what truly sets Groningen apart from other cities in the Netherlands is its low average age. Almost 25 percent of its 200,000 citizens are students! The 40,000 students who call Groningen home during their studies at the University of Groningen and Hanze UAS bring the city to life. The two universities also share facilities and collaborate — meaning exponentially larger opportunities for students at both schools. The takeaway? Choosing Groningen means choosing the best student experience you can get!

In sum, choosing to pursue a Master’s at Hanze UAS offers the following amazing benefits:

– Obtaining a MSc, MA or MBA title in 1 to 1.5 years

– Pursuing interests in greater depth

– Gaining a multidisciplinary perspective

– Building and expanding professional networks

– Experiencing life in the diverse, student-centric community of Groningen

For more information on how multidisciplinary studies in one of Hanze UAS’s international Master’s programs can help you reach your academic and professional goals,  download a brochure, check out the school’s Facebook page, or visit on Open Day this Friday, April 7th or  the Master’s Market on Tuesday May 2nd to take a tour of the campus and the city while also meeting with lecturers and students from the programs.

STEM, STEAM, and Where Creativity Fits into the Mix


STEM is an acronym which brings together the four basic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. While educators have been combining these subjects in classrooms and curricula for decades, the STEM branding first emerged in the early 2000s. Countries all over the world have since established clear priorities aimed at inspiring more students to pursue STEM studies and the necessary skills they represent for the workforce.

Somewhere along the way STEM transitioned into STEAM. Now a widely adopted movement among schools, businesses, and individuals,  STEAM proposes that artists — and the creativity they embody — are the key to driving innovation. Says STEM to STEAM, “In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future…Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century.”

The “Secret Sauce”

The website Edutopia, meanwhile, goes so far as to describe creativity as “the secret sauce in STEM.” Ainissa Ramirez, PhD, author of the TED Book Save our Science, recipient of MIT’s “Top 100 Young Innovators Award,” and self-proclaimed Science Evangelist, says of creativity, “It is a STEM virtue. While most scientists and engineers might be reluctant to admit that, and to accept the concept of STEAM (where A is for Art), I’ve witnessed that the best of the best are the most creative.”

Ultimately, insists Ramirez, “Creativity breaks the ice to enable learning….the skills of the 21st century need us to create scholars that can link the unlinkable. These scholars must be willing to try many combinations before finding the right answer. They must be comfortable with concepts that they can play with in new ways. We want smart-thinking creative people. This is the formula for a better tomorrow.”

In other words, while science, technology, engineering and mathematics may indeed go hand and hand, it is creativity that elevates them toward innovation.

Are You Unknowingly Creative?

The good news? While scientists may not think of themselves as creative, a growing body of evidence suggests that the best of them are. In fact, a study which appeared in the August 2013 Economic Development Quarterly links childhood exposure to the arts with successful STEM entrepreneurship in adulthood.

And while the jury is still out regarding whether the relationship is causal and, if so, in which direction (i.e., “Do STEM-inclined students have lots of interests outside science or do the arts boost science ability?” asks a Science 2.0 blog), the study reaffirms the role creativity plays in STEM.

Which begs the question: Why? Continues Science 2.0, “Such activity fosters out-of-the-box thinking, the researchers said. In fact, the group reported using artistic skills – such as analogies, playing, intuition and imagination – to solve complex problems.”

The overall takeaway, as Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development director Rex LaMore told Science 2.0 is clear: “Inventors are moSTre likely to create high-growth, high-paying jobs in our state, and that’s the kind of target we think we should be looking for. So we better think about how we support artistic capacity, as well as science and math activity, so that we have these outcomes.”

Innovation Means Creation

Need more proof that creativity counts when it comes to STEM? Think of it this way: What would Apple have been without the incredibly creative mind of Steve Jobs, who himself was a passionate advocate for the integration of technology and the arts and who once said, “Picasso had a saying. He said, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

But Jobs also pointed to a disconnect between the two, telling the Wall Street Journal, “People from technology don’t understand the creative process that these companies go through to make their products, and they don’t appreciate how hard it is. And the creative companies don’t appreciate how creative technology is; they think it’s just something you buy. And so there is a gulf of understanding between the two of them.”

A recent report, “Ready to Innovate,” from global, independent business membership and research association The Conference Board looked into the question of whether educators and executives were adequately aligned when it came to the creative readiness of today’s workforce. Its conclusion? “In this new environment, innovation of products, services, and processes is essential if companies hope to create competitive advantages, satisfy increasingly powerful global consumers, and prevail economically in a sustainable fashion. This emphasis on innovation will depend on strong creative skills from new entrants to the workforce. As businesses seek out this creative talent and as schools recognize the importance of cultivating creative abilities, both sectors see involvement in the arts and other work experience as markers of creativity, along with cultural diversity and self-employment.”

It’s easy to get tripped up in the sometimes contentious debate over STEM versus STEAM. However — given the increasing body of evidence pointing to the inextricable intertwining of STEM and creativity and regardless of your personal.