Zoek medewerkers/organisaties prof.dr. E Turnhout
Naamprof.dr. E Turnhout

OmschrijvingFull Professor 'The Politics of Environmental Knowledge'
OrganisatieDepartement Omgevingswetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidBos- en Natuurbeleid
Telefoon+31 317 486 205
Telefoon secretariaat+31 317 486 187
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BezoekadresDroevendaalsesteeg 3
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  • Associate editor Restoration Ecology - Wiley
    sep 2017 - sep 2020


Esther Turnhout is Full Professor at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Her research program The Politics of Environmental Knowledge includes research into 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. Current research focuses on the UN Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), human-wildlife conflict and auditing practices in forest management. She has published articles on these and other topics in journals such as Nature, Conservation Letters, Nature Sustainability,   Science and Public Policy and Environment and Planning. She is (associate) editor of Environmental science & Policy, Restoration Ecology, and Conservation and Society. She has been selected as an expert for IPBES and is currently a lead author of the IPBES Global Assessment


Prof. Esther Turnhout will deliver an invited lecture at the University of Edingburgh, 4 March 2018, "Democratizing environmental expertise: challenges and opportunities at the science-policy-society interface".

New book: Environmental Expertise: Connecting Science, Policy, and Society, by Esther Turnhout, Willemijn Tuinstra and Willem Halffman, 2019, Cambridge University Press

The book discusses the problems environmental experts encounter in the interaction between knowledge, society, and policy on both a practical and conceptual level. Key findings from social science research are illustrated with a range of case studies, from fisheries to fracking. The book offers guidance on how to tackle these challenges, equipping readers with tools to better understand the diversity of environmental knowledge and its role in complex environmental issues. Written by leading natural and social scientists, this text provides an essential resource for students, scientists and professionals working at the science-policy interface.


Democratizing development research. Key note at the International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD 2017) (start at 30 min)

Globalizing biodiversity: representation, order, and the politics of knowledge. Keynote at the Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference (HopefulNESS 2017)

Globalizing biodiversity: representation, order, and the politics of knowledge Keynote at the conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE 2017)

Sociale media
  Esther Turnhout op Twitter: @EstherTurnhout
  Esther Turnhout op Linkedin
  Esther Turnhout op Google Scholar Citations
  Esther Turnhout op ResearchGate



Esther Turnhout's research program on the politics of Environmental knowledge addresses the following themes:

The science policy interface, to analyze the political dynamics -related to the in and exclusion of knowledge, knowledge holders and knowledge users - at play in the relation between the production and use of knowledge.

  • How are science-policy-society relations imagined and justified in the environmental domain and how are they enacted in practice?
  • What dynamics and factors influence the relation between science and policy in practice? How does science inform decision-making and what is the role of other forms of knowledge?
  • What processes of selection and exclusion are involved in attempt to optimize the relation between the production and use of knowledge for specific prospected knowledge users

The performativity of knowledge, to apply a critical lens on representation (based on Foucauldian notions of performativity as well as coproduction and ontological politics) to processes of environmental knowledge making and their role in governance processes:

  • What choices and values are reflected in environmental knowledge? How are these justified?
  • What representations of nature and environment are promoted and ignored? What and whose knowledge is included and excluded?
  • How are these representations enacted in practice and with what implications for people and environment?

Roles of science, to analyze the implementation of new ideals for science-policy-society relations like transdisciplinarity or knowledge brokering:

  • How do new ideals and concepts of science, such as transdisciplinarity or knowledge brokering, materialize in practice?
  • How do scientific and lay knowledge combine (or not) in these practices?
  • What roles of science are conducive to fostering accountability and legitimacy?
  • What mechanisms inside and outside science constrain and enable scientists from playing new roles?

Citizen science, to analyze the relation between science and citizens in envirommental knowledge making with specific attention for notions of citizenship, legitimacy and democracy.

  • How is the citizen imagined and constructed in different citizen science projects?
  • How are the concerns and knowledges of citizens aligned (or not) with those of science?
  • What scope is there for citizens to use, negotiate or resist scientific knowledge?
  • Under what conditions can practices of citizen science contribute to accountability and legitimacy of science?

I welcome reserach projects that address one or more themes and research questions. In addition, I have a specific interest in global environmental knowledge making processes, specifically in the field of biodiversity and in the context of IPBES (the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), and in the field of forest carbon accounting and monitoring for global climate governance and REDD+. 

Research projects:

  • FEM-11306 - Introduction to Forest and Nature Conservation
  • FNP-31806 - Social and Political Theory for Forest and Nature Conservation Research
  • FNP-32806 - Science and Expertise in Nature and Environment
  • GEO-30306 - Concepts & Approaches to Tourism Society and Environment
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