Martin Drenthen Awarded Prestigious Research Grant

July 10, 2012

Martin Drenthen (Radboud University, Nijmegen), ISEE’s representative for The Netherlands, has been awarded an Innovation Research Incentive Grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for his 5-year project “Reading the Landscape: A Hermeneutic Approach to Environmental Ethics.”

The purpose of the grant is to examine how philosophical hermeneutics can contribute to environmental ethics, and to test the usefulness of the hermeneutic perspective in environmental ethics in the evaluation ecological restoration projects.  Martin will put together a four-person team to test a theoretical framework he develops based on the study of seminal works in philosophical hermeneutics.  A postdoctoral project will critically reflect on existing legitimization strategies by conservationists and restorationists, and explicate, articulate and examine the implicit moral narratives about the human-nature relationship which motivate actual restoration projects today.  Two PhD projects will study concrete cases of conflicting landscape interpretations.  The first will focus on conflicts about “rewilding” projects, where natural processes and entities are deliberately introduced in cultural landscapes.  It will examine existing attempts to recognize the importance of elements of heritage landscapes for identity in the design of ecological restoration projects, and explicate and articulate normative motives at play.  The second project will examine how spontaneous natural developments can challenge perceived notions of identity by addressing controversial cases where the recurrence of predators and other “inconvenient” species is perceived by some as threat or nuisance, and welcomed by others who consider them as to “belong” in a certain place.  All projects will explicate and articulate existing underlying moral experiences that can explain the relation between landscape interpretations and notions of self between conflicting parties, with the aim of broadening the perspective and deepening the moral debate about the landscape.

To learn more about Martin’s work please visit his website at