Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Opinion article
01 Oct 2012
Opinion article |  | 01 Oct 2012

T-shaped competency profile for water professionals of the future

S. Uhlenbrook and E. de Jong

Abstract. Global environmental changes introduce new challenges and expose future university graduates in hydrology and related fields to problems of unprecedented complexity and magnitude. The T-shape model is proposed as a generic competency profile guiding the design of university curricula. This model differentiates between cognitive competencies in a certain field (i.e. hydrology; vertical leg of the T), and other cognitive/knowledge competencies in neighboring fields (e.g. hydraulics, aquatic ecology, land use management etc.) and functional, personal and values competencies and meta-competencies (all summarized in the horizontal bar of the T). It is based on the holistic model of professional competencies by Cheetham and Chivers (1996) and related studies (Oskam, 2009). The T-shape profile should apply to all levels of higher education (1st degree till doctorate level) in hydrology and related fields. For the effectiveness of hydrologists as professionals, a variable mix of competencies is required and further discussed. Key aspects are an open attitude for learning, continuous professional development (lifelong learning), and integrative and team working skills. Furthermore, a stimulating learning environment that promotes active learning is essential. As examples that substantiate the proposed T-shape model, the post-graduate education programmes of UNESCO-IHE and the main outcomes from a university curriculum workshop to promote education for sustainable development are introduced.