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

CALL FOR PAPERS – Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainability: A Call to Stewardship

Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. November 8-10, 2012

This symposium is devoted to exploring the interdisciplinary dimensions of environmental stewardship in literature and the arts, law, philosophy, science, and religion.  We seek papers that critique, develop, and enhance conceptions of stewardship that are grounded in current scientific and cultural understanding of environmental problems.  We encourage explorations such problems as climate change, species extinction, human/animal relationships, food production, land and water use, air quality, and other environmental and resource problems of national and
international consequence.  We especially welcome presentations that also develop the underlying moral, ethical, cultural, or theological dimensions of such problems.  In other words, we seek papers that will provide guidelines for solutions and the justifications and methods for motivating conservation, restoration, and the goal of long-term sustainability.  Moreover, we expect papers that reflect various religious, philosophical, and cultural perspectives.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Margaret Palmer (Director of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and University of Maryland),
  • Jonathan Foley (Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota),
  • and J. Baird Callicott (University of North Texas and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy).

This symposium will address questions about:

  • Stewardship: What are the advantages and limitations of the idea of stewardship?  To which texts, stories, cosmologies, and artistic traditions can we turn for inspiration? What are the underlying values and moral limits of environmental laws?  What obstacles and opportunities are there for science to interface effectively with religion, public policy, and culture to promote better stewardship?
  • Conservation: What are the fundamental principles of conservation biology?  What are the crises of conservation we face?  How can we translate conservation biology and other relevant sciences more effectively into the languages of culture and religion, into human values?
  • Restoration: What are the challenges of ecological restoration?  How do we know when restoration is necessary?  What successes can we point to?  With the need of ecological restoration in mind, what kind of economy is a moral and efficacious one?  What is religion’s relevance to restoration?
  • Sustainability: What are the fundamental principles of sustainability?  What are the principles of intergenerational as well as intra-generational fairness?  How can we meet the needs of present and future populations?  What are the limits of resources we face and what role might faith, innovation, or modesty play in living within them?

Please send proposals for individual papers or for panels to by June 1, 2012.  Proposals for papers should be no more than 200 words and should include a CV.  Proposals for panels should include a description of the panel’s objectives and a paper proposal and a CV for each participant.

This symposium is hosted by the Environmental Ethics Initiative at Brigham Young University (BYU) and sponsored by generous funds from The Nature Conservancy and from BYU’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Colleges of Life Sciences and of Humanities.

FINAL CALL FOR PAPERS – Workshop on History and Values in Ecological Restoration

–June 7-9, 2012 at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

–Sponsored in part by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation

This workshop focuses on restoration in landscapes with complex histories, shaped by the ongoing interaction between humans and nature.  These “hybrid landscapes” challenge traditional frameworks for ecological restoration, which focus on restoration of ecosystems to conditions existing prior to a discrete anthropogenic disturbance. Hybrid landscapes, by contrast, are characterized by blended natural and cultural histories, which challenge the identification of pre-disturbance “reference conditions.”  The aim of this workshop is to explore history and values in hybrid landscapes, and how they interact in the identification of restoration goals.  The workshop will give particular attention to the restoration and re-naturalization of former military sites in the United States now managed as National Wildlife Refuges.

Key questions for the workshop include: To what extent, if any, are the concepts of “authenticity” and “historical fidelity” relevant to restoration in hybrid landscapes? Are there new ways of conceiving authenticity and historical fidelity that are more appropriate for landscapes with complex socio-ecological histories, or are these categories simply irrelevant?  If authenticity and historical fidelity are no longer relevant, then what values should guide restoration?  To what extent should restored landscapes and their interpretation take account of and make visible a site’s history?

We welcome papers from history, philosophy, geography, sociology, restoration ecology, and other relevant disciplines that address the above questions and themes.  This workshop has a unique format: we are inviting land managers from several military-to-wildlife conversion refuges to participate, and the workshop will include a field trip to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, a former chemical weapons manufacturing facility.  Presenters should tailor their papers for accessibility and relevance to both managers and academics. Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation, we will cover lodging and food for all workshop presenters.  

Please submit 300-word abstracts to Marion Hourdequin by February 20, 2012.  Early submissions are welcome.  Questions about the workshop can be directed to the organizers, Marion Hourdequin (Colorado College) and David Havlick (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs).