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Cofunded by the European Union

"A dream come true”

–An Action learning water-MBA for PhDs in the field of water

European Centre of Excellence for sustainable water technology – Wetsus, has started a collaboration with Business School Netherlands to add a new element to PhD programmes in the field of water, in the form of an Action learning MBA with a Major in Water Technology. An MBA degree - Master of Business Administration - in combination with a PhD degree, will enable the graduates to become true scientific leaders and entrepreneurs. For Wetsus this is a dream come true made possible by the Water4All partnership in combination with the Marie Curie Skłodowska Action programme.

The new MBA programme tailored for PhDs in the field of water will start soon. The MBA will use action leaning, using real-life cases, challenges, and assignments. The PhDs will learn to speak the industry's language and bring much-needed water technology innovations to the world market.

  • The missing piece

A PhD should be more than just a research project. "the existing doctoral programme at Wetsus already emphasizes personal development – soft skills," says coordinator Dr. Cristina Gagliano. "That is especially made possible through two subsequent Marie Curie Skłodowska grants; WaterSeed and EMPOWER"

Now, with the action learning MBA with a Major in Water Technology, a next level in integrated PhD training is reached. Dr Gagliano: "The MBA will enable PhD students to grow. To be ready for the market. To allow them to speak the same language as industry professionals."

  • Global Impact

They will do so with a tailored water MBA by Business School Netherlands (BSN) – leading worldwide action learning. "We train management professionals by putting knowledge into practice in a safe environment," says Dean Toine van den Heuvel. "It is a form of learning with real-life cases that can make a change from the beginning on. And it really connects at a human level."

"We are extremely excited to cooperate with our unique MBA degree to achieve these sustainable development goals, specifically SDG 6. We can have a huge impact on the world as a whole together. We can channel our students to be great leaders, who are responsible, change-orientated, decision-makers and results-driven that can operate at the level of policy, process, strategic, and management like no other institute does," international director Juanita Bouwer adds. "By cooperating with relevant companies, our students not only learn themselves but more than return their investment. For example, as part of the MBA programme, one student was tasked to improve the occupation rate of a great hotel in the area. It had an average occupancy of 35% at the start, but once being overviewed by our student, it rapidly rose to 95."

  • Setting an example

For the water technologists, the programme will be stretched over the course of three years. Leaving the first year to get them to start with the research and not make the addition a burden. Lessons will be conducted in Leeuwarden with BSN teachers. Juanita Bouwer: "The students will work together in relevant teams, each learning the different roles one can pursue in industry. They will develop their own cases based on their research to show what they can do. It will be exciting to see what contribution they will bring to the sustainable development goal 4 in their local area and globally."

And the programme itself could well be viewed as a study of its own. Dr Gagliano: "To our knowledge, this is the first time such an MBA is implemented into a PhD degree in Europe. That makes it a bit of a lab on its own. Though we are convinced that this will become a model to follow." For Water4All phase 2, Lund University and UEvora will join the subtask on PhD schemes with the aim to extend the action learning Water MBA to their programmes.

Other news

The Water4All Partnership - Water Security for the Planet - is a funding programme for scientific research in freshwater. It aims to tackle water challenges to face climate change, help to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and boost the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

It is co-funded by the European Union within the frame of the Horizon Europe programme (a key funding programme for research and innovation). The Partnership duration is for seven years from 2022.

The Water4All objective is to enable water security at a large scale and in the long term. Its goal is also to tackle water issues in a holistic frame. 

All forms of life on earth need water. All human activities operate with this resource. Water is part of our everyday life. It is also integrated within urban and countryside landscapes. It is one of the most valuable elements we share with plants and animals.

These simple facts must be kept in mind to understand the Water4All ambition.

This resource is weakened in many places due to climate changes, and human habits. We know that we can improve the way we use water. Everyone has a role to play and especially the scientific research community.

Scientific research is the heart of the Partnership as It is a powerful tool to improve knowledge on preserving, restoring, and managing this essential resource. 

International cooperation is also needed as water has no borders on Earth and runs from one country to another.

Water4All brings together a broad and cohesive group of 90 partners from 33 countries in the European Union and beyond. This consortium gathers partners from the whole water Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) chain.