Esther Turnhout appointed personal professor on The Politics of Environmental Knowledge

Published on
December 11, 2015

Esther Turnhout has been appointed as personal professor at FNP. Her research program 'The Politics of Environmental Knowledge' offers an innovative perspective on the relation between science, other forms of knowledge, and society.

"Biodiversity governance is characterized by a strong technocratic orientation,” Esther Turnhout says. “Science-based data, maps and numbers are used to represent biodiversity and inform decision making about conservation targets and priorities. In my research I investigate the role of science and scientific knowledge in conservation policy and management. My research is based on the central idea that science-based representations of biodiversity are not neutral mirrors of the world. They contribute to the constitution of biodiversity as a measurable and governable phenomenon. In other words, they are performative and they carry political repercussions. The politics of knowledge suggests that only considering the truth-value of knowledge is not sufficient to judge the legitimacy of science; we need to ensure that science can be held accountable to those who are, or are not, represented by it.”

As a professor Esther Turnhout will program research on the different roles experts play at the science-policy interface, the political implications of policy relevant knowledge, and the participation of citizens in environmental knowledge making, also known as citizen science. She has over 15 years of experience in research on topics such as amateur natural history, the science-policy interface, Natura 2000, public participation, ecological monitoring and performance measurement, invasive species, and global environmental knowledge. Recently she has been researching the mobilisation of the concept of Ecosystem Services in conservation and the UN Intergovernmental science-policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She has published extensively in journals such as Nature, Environmental Politics, Geoforum, Science and Public Policy, Environment and Planning A, Conservation Letters, and Conservation Biology. She is associate editor of Environmental Science & Policy and has also been selected as an expert for the IPBES deliverables