FNP-32806 Science and Expertise in Nature and Environment


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper2
Group work5
Course coordinator(s)dr. JR Floor
Lecturer(s)MSc MN Anyango
prof. dr. E Turnhout
dr. TAP Metze-Burghouts
dr. ir. AP Pauwelussen
dr. JR Floor
JM Chambers
prof. dr. BJM Arts
Examiner(s)prof. dr. E Turnhout
dr. JR Floor

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Introductory courses on the social and policy aspects of environmental governance, forest and nature conservation and natural resource management.


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with CPT-10803 Philosophy of Science and Ethics and/or CPT-10303 Biology and philosophy; exploring open questions.
Forestry, nature conservation and natural resource management are practices in which scientific knowledge and expertise play a key role. However, these issues are also characterized by competing values and perspectives, interests and claims. Moreover, what the facts are is often contested, which means maintaining a strict separation between science and politics is difficult in practice. How are we to think of science and the claims of experts in this situation? Future practitioners need to be able to cooperate with experts and professionals with different disciplinary backgrounds, knowledge and expertise, values, interests and perspectives. They also need to understand the relation between scientific knowledge and decision making, as well as reflect on the different roles that experts can play in policies and management of nature, environment and natural resources. This course will:
- introduce state-of-the-art theories and concepts that deal with the role of science in policy and society;
- discuss the question of 'what is science' by introducing basic notions in philosophy and sociology of science;
- stimulate critical reflection on how to organize the relation between science, society and policy;
- enable students to link theories and concepts to empirical cases.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the essential characteristics of the relation between science, policy and society, including the theories and concepts discussed in the course;
- understand the main concepts and ideas in the philosophy and sociology of science;
- critically evaluate these and apply them to empirical examples.


- participating in lectures, tutorials and practicals;
- preparing by means of assignments and self study;
- participating in group work and writing a group report;
- writing individual essay.


The examination of the course consists of three different assignments in which the learning outcomes are tested. The first is a portfolio of small assignments (25% of the grade). The second is a group report about a case (25% of the grade). The third is an individual essay (50% of the grade). To pass the course, students should score a minimum grade of 5.5 for the individual essay and a minimum of 5.5 as the final average grade.


The book by Turnhout, E; Tuinstra, W & Halffman, W. 2019. Environmental Expertise: Connecting science, policy and society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This book is available at Studystore. 

Compulsory for: BBNForest and Nature ConservationBSc2AF