Innovation Sciences is a study that combines technology and social sciences. The philosophy behind this is that it takes more than technological knowledge to make a new technology into a successful innovation. You need to deal with economic, legal and social effects, with ethical questions, with the psychology and preferences of the users, etcetera.
With this you can explain several phenomena of technological successes and failures of the past. For example, the industrial revolution in The Netherlands was held back by the strong position of guilds. Mechanical production of ‚Äì for example ‚Äì bread was far cheaper than the traditional means of production, but the bakers‚Äô guild put all bread factories out of business by artificially lowering their prices (using built up guild savings) below production costs. Thus, the social organization overpowered technological superiority.
Of course you can also explain current phenomena. Big players in the UMTS telephony market are having serious problems at the moment, because several small companies play strategic games with their (essential) patents, asking huge sums and driving prices of UMTS-enabled cellphones to ridiculous heights.
Even prediction of future developments is part of the program: RFID chips, used as a ‚Äúsmart barcode‚Äù, are a quite invasive technology. In fact, if every product contains an RFID chip, companies can gather data about every individual product we use: when we buy it, when we use it and how much of it, and when we dispose of it. However, I think that a future with RFID chips in every product is inevitable. The (few, small) advantages of RFID technology are clearly visible and understandable for customers, but the dangers of loss of privacy are less clear, further off, and more complicated.
In my examples I purposefully left out the topic that I like most: usability. This is a very important part of the study program, and the usability/consumer behavior part has its own separate master study: Human-Technology Interaction. I will be doing this MSc when I get back from the USA (see my adventure).
After the completion of my BSc and a board year at Intermate, I‚Äôm a ‚Äúregular‚Äù at our study. Furthermore, I took a lot of assistantships at our faculty. They include teaching (two courses in measurement and data analysis), programming (sociological computer models), course redesign (cognition), devising tests (physics), research assistance, and tutoring. Being active is highly encouraged in our faculty, and almost all students are involved with the study program in various ways besides just taking courses. This is probably because our group is quite small, and everyone knows each other. Even the staff knows most of the students.