Succesful PhD defense by now-Dr. Judith Floor

Published on
April 24, 2018

On 13 April 2018, ENP-PhD candidate Judith Floor successfully defended her thesis, entitled  “Knowledge uncertainties in nature conservation - Analysing science-policy interactions in the Dutch Wadden Sea”.

In her thesis, Judith has focused on knowledge uncertainties as an important challenge for nature conservation governance. Although the legitimacy of science-based decisions is questioned by knowledge uncertainties, the dominance of scientific expertise in nature conservation has not reduced. Her thesis explains this paradox with an analysis of knowledge uncertainties in decision-making processes around a planned powerboat race, mussel fishery and seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea.

Judith makes an analytical distinction between three types of knowledge uncertainties: incomplete knowledge, unpredictability and ambiguity. A key factor that explains why knowledge uncertainties have not reduced the dominance of science-based expertise in nature conservation governance is the dominant perception of uncertainty as incomplete knowledge among scientists as well as decision-makers. In order to adequately respond to knowledge debates, ambiguity triggered by diverging knowledge claims as well as the politics of knowledge uncertainties should be given due consideration.

The defence was followed by a Walk & Talk symposium, including an excursion to the protected nature area of Wageningen close to the river. During this symposium, the participants were invited to reflect and debate on human activities in protected nature areas and the influence of knowledge uncertainties on nature conservation. In small groups, 50 people participated in the guided walk that  highlighted different visions on the nature area.