Christopher Fraser is alumni of Technology Governance and Digital Transformation Master's programme. In 8 steps Christopher will tell you about his background, programme choice and its contents, as well as to whom he would recommend studying it.
Step 1: About interest in public administration and technology
My interests in the relationship between public administration and technology come from two influences. First, I spent the better part of a decade building a career in the public sector as a policy professional. This gave me good insights into how governments work and the many problems facing governments in dealing with a rapidly changing world. Second, having grown up in Canada’s Arctic, I have lived experiences of massive changes in technology in my personal life and the communities I called home. Furthermore, my career outside of the public sector was with a satellite-based telecommunications company where I helped work with the Canadian government to vastly improve broadband internet access in Canada’s remote northern communities. These experiences have created a strong interest and skillset for me in working with public administrators and supporting technological changes within governments and society.
Step 2: Learning about digital Estonia
Estonia is exceptionally good at marketing their successes in digital transformation of society. I have been aware about Estonia for quite a long time, but first learned about Estonia being a digital paradise through many different articles and videos. Major media outlets had published quite a bit about Estonia’s digital successes which first caught my attention. This also led me to watching videos about Estonia and digital technologies on Youtube. My personal and professional interest in digital transformation led to my interest in learning from and meeting Estonians who participate in this important topic.
Step 3: Choosing a programme
I had found out about the Technology Governance and Digital Transformation programme while I was reading more about digital Estonia. It was during this research that I stumbled upon the programme. Once I read the website description I was very interested, but once I saw some of the names of the professors — who are quite famous in the field — I was immediately sold and reached out to the programme manager.
Step 4: Moving to Tallinn
Living in Estonia is quite comfortable, exceptionally safe, and very affordable. Tallinn and the surrounding area have so much to offer to people of many different tastes. I would highly recommend Tallinn as a destination to pursue a degree to anyone. Some people warned me about the winter’s being cold and difficult. However, as a Canadian, I found the winters in Estonia to be somewhat on the mild side.
I really quite enjoyed the food at the many local restaurants and the beer at the many local breweries. Tallinn’s Old City is such an adventure and one of the most beautifully maintained medieval European places I have ever visited. But that’s not all! The Soviet built areas provide an interesting glimpse into the recent past and the newer built-up areas of Tallinn are very modern. With all of that are the beautiful wilderness areas that are in and around the city. It’s really quite a treat to live in Tallinn. Furthermore, for the adventurous, there are so many places to visit within Estonia (I recommend Tartu as a day trip) and access to many other European cities is super easy. For example, Helsinki is an easy ferry ride and also makes a fun day trip.
Step 5: Enjoying the curriculum
I pursued all of the core courses of the programme. Truthfully, I found every course to be informative, interesting, and each with their own benefits. I am cautious to say one is more useful than another, because I found them all wonderful and well supportive of each other. At the beginning, some students might find the early courses to be confusing as to why they are in the programme, but with time they will fully come to realize how vastly important those concepts play in the more focused themes of technology and digital transformation found in later semesters.
Step 6: Writing a thesis
My master’s thesis was titled “Inuit Technological Self-Determination Through Institutions of Governance and Industry”. The master’s programme provided me such a greater understanding of technology and society that I found using my prior experience to be highly useful in writing this thesis. My supervisors for the thesis were amazing and helped me write an important piece of academic work. There is so much support from the programme and the faculty towards producing good work, that I found writing my master’s thesis to be a great experience.
Step 7: Planning the future
I hope to pursue a PhD. This programme really ignited my interests in technology and society. I enjoyed the programme so much that I want to have more!
Step 8: Tips for others
This programme would be useful to a very broad range of people. As a former public servant, I would highly recommend this programme to anyone in government who wants to expand into policy and management of technologies within government and society. Having had prior working experience, it would be my biggest recommendation for applicants to also have work experience. I found that, because of my prior work experience, I was able to dig deeper into concepts and also be able to contribute my own experiences into the classrooms.
Further thoughts about the field
The most visible issue for me in the field is the obsession by decision-makers, and the general public as well, towards responding to popular or fad technologies without thinking about the greater scale of technological change. Shiny brand names and exciting-sounding technologies can often distract governments from making valuable, long-term decisions with regards to technologies. Thus, it is my hope that programs like the Master’s in Technology Governance and Digital Transformation, can help train new public servants, company executives, and public figures to better understand the larger scale of technological change. This way governments, major international businesses and important organizations can make better decisions towards technologies within the public sector, the economy, and society at-large.
Want to manage technological changes and digital transformations?
The Master's programme in Technology Governance and Digital Transformation is future-oriented and truly inter- and transdisciplinary: from economics, technology, and innovation to governance and public policies, where all key components of the socio-economic future are specifically discussed.