Quality of Life

This interdisciplinary USE sequence investigates notions of happiness, health, and wellbeing with a focus on the promises and peril of technologies designed to improve  quality of life (QoL) now and in the future. Taking the notion QoL as a starting point which connects technology and society, the course sequence is an examination of the invention, dissemination, use, and regulation of technologies transform our societies, identities, and our visions of what constitutes a good life, in forseen and unforseen ways. 

Wellbeing, happines, and health are often seen as personal and private issues, conceptions of which are culturally and individually diverse. Engineers have to take this into account when offering technological solutions for improving human lives. Individual perceptions of new technologies often determines their acceptance, rejection or alteration. In this USE sequence, students will come to realize that ‘improving quality of life’ is easier said than done. This is because first, transformations in more than one societal domain and activities of various organizations and individuals are necessary for such improvement. And second, because what counts as a QoL improvement itself is contested. To this end, students will come to recognize how past experiences can accelerate or slacken change. Not only will students gain awareness of these processes, they will also be able to analyze them from the perspective of human valuse and stakeholder interests, and integrate this knowledge in developing future products, innovations, and proposals.


The Quality of Life Exploratory Course focuses on how, in the face of some of the major challenges of the 21st Century (such as urbanization and the ageing population), technology can improve or detract from quality of life (QoL). The course also explores how technology itself changes our conceptions of what Qol is and how future engineers will be able to contribute to improving QoL. The course examines from an ethical and long term perspective how technology can both contribute to solving our 21st Century problems and how it can and has contributed to creating or exacerbating these problems.


The USE sequence has one specialized course: This course will focus on QoL from an ethical-philosophical perspective and QoL from a Stakeholder and Transition Perspective. Students will be teached more in-depth knowledge in the more theoretical aspects of QoL. These relate to the value tensions that arise in the relationships between technologies and QoL and how engineers can approach the creation of new technologies with human values at their heart, the Value Sensitive Design approach.  This course also emphasizes the  dynamic aspects of QoL, concrete applications, and the role of particular stakeholder groups in processes of change. Debating and active participation will form a major part of the learning method.


In the last phase of the USE sequence students work closely with faculties outside of the School of Innovation Sciences, such as the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Industrial Design, Industrial Engineering, and the Built Environment on a Quartile long group Project. The projects course aims to integrate theoretical knowledge on Quality of Life from different disciplines with the engineering practice in various societal environments. In the projects the students show that they can analyze a specific problem and offer a creative solution (in the form of a design, proposal, or advice) incorporating the insights gained in the explorative and specialization phases (e.g. ethical, philosophical, historical, economic, and medical perspectives).

Started the Bachelor College in 2014 or later? As part of your USE Learning Trajectory, you must participate in 5 Studium Generale activities marked with the USE logo. Important: You can start participating in these activities as soon as you enroll at TU/e.

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Want to know more? Contact dr. Frank, Lily at +31 40 - 247 2344 or via the contact form below.  

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