Book overview

An important goal of environmental research is to inform policy and decision making. However, environmental experts working at the interface between science, policy and society face complex challenges, including how to identify sources of disagreement over environmental issues, communicate uncertainties and limitations of knowledge, and tackle controversial topics such as genetic modification and the use of biofuels.

This book discusses the problems environmental experts encounter in the interaction between knowledge, society, and policy on a practical as well as on a 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, and equips 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 scientists and professionals working at the science-policy interface.

Table of contents

1 Introduction: The Plight of the Environmental Scientist
Willem Halffman, Esther Turnhout & Willemijn Tuinstra

1.1 Science and the Environment
1.2 The Challenges for Environmental Professionals
1.3 The Book

2 What Is Science? (And Why Does This Matter?)
Willem Halffman

2.1 Trust Me, I Am a Scientist
2.2 The Reputation of Science and Its Uses
2.3 Science as a Particular Way of Reasoning
2.4 Science as a Particular Way To Organise Knowledge Creation
2.5 The Diversity of the Sciences
2.6 So How Do We Proceed?

3 Frames: Beyond Facts Versus Values
Willem Halffman

3.1 What Are Frames?
3.2 Framing and the Sciences
3.3 How to Identify Frames in Language
3.4 Institutional Frames
3.5 The Nature of Frames
3.6 The Relevance of Frame Reflection

Case A Framing Climate-Change
Mike Hulme

4 Science, Politics and the Public in Knowledge Controversies
Esther Turnhout & Thomas Gieryn

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Speaking Truth To Power and the Linear Model of Science Society Relationships
4.3 Science, Policy and Politics in Knowledge Controversies
4.4 Science and the Public in Knowledge Controversies
4.5 Making Sense of Knowledge Controversies
4.6 Building Trust

Case B What Does ‘Climategate’ Tell Us About Public Knowledge Controversies?
Silke Beck

Case C Whose Deficit Anyway? Institutional Misunderstanding of Fracking Sceptical publics
Laurence Williams & Phil Macnaghten

5 The Limits to Knowledge
Willemijn Tuinstra, Ad Ragas & Willem Halffman

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Different Conceptions of Uncertainty
5.3 Different Conceptions of Risk
5.4 Risk-Perception and Trust
5.5 Dealing with Uncertainty in Policy Practices
5.6 Conceptualizing Strategies to Deal with Uncertainty and Risk
5.7 Conclusion

Case D Angry Bulbs
Ad Ragas & Marga Jacobs

6 Usable Knowledge: Science, Policy and Society
Willemijn Tuinstra, Willem Halffman & Esther Turnhout

6.1 Introduction
6.2 What Do Scientific Experts Do?
6.3 Characterising Science-Policy Dynamics
6.4 Strategies to Connect Knowledge Production and Use
6.5 What Counts as Usable Knowledge?
6.6 Usable Knowledge? The Importance of Context
6.7 Usable Knowledge: Starting from Practice and Looking for Impact
6.8 Usable Knowledge: Credibility, Salience and Legitimacy

Case E Expertise for European Fisheries Policy
Willem Halffman & Martin Pastoors

7 Interdisciplinarity and the Challenge of Knowledge Integration
Esther Turnhout

7.1 Why Integrate?
7.2 What Is Interdisciplinarity?
7.3 Barriers to Knowledge Integration
7.4 Approaches to Knowledge Integration
7.5 The Politics of Knowledge Integration

Case F Knowledge Integration in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Clark Miller

Case G Integrated Assessment For Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
Willemijn Tuinstra

8 Lay Expertise
Esther Turnhout & Katja Neves

8.1 Introduction
8.2 The Value of Lay Expertise
8.3 What Happens When Different Forms of Knowledge Meet?
8.4 Knowledge as Situated Practice
8.5 Participatory Knowledge Production
8.6 Conclusion

Case H Lay Expertise and Botanical Science: A Case of Dynamic Interdependencies in Biodiversity Conservation
Katja Neves

Case I The Loweswater Care Project
Claire Waterton

9 Environmental Experts at the Science-Policy-Society Interface
Esther Turnhout

9.1 Navigating the Science-Policy-Society Interface
9.2 Servicing
9.3 Advocating
9.4 Diversifying
9.5 Expert Roles and Dilemmas
9.6 Ethics And Integrity At The Science-Policy-Society Interface

Case J Group Think and Whistle Blowers in CO2 Capture And Storage
Heleen de Coninck

10 Environmental Knowledge in Democracy
Esther Turnhout, Willem Halffman & Willemijn Tuinstra

10.1 Improving Environmental Knowledge
10.2 Beyond Technocracy
10.3 Democratizing Environmental Knowledge
10.4 Democratic Expert Institutions

11 Conclusion: Science, Reason and the Environment
Willem Halffman, Willemijn Tuinstra & Esther Turnhout


Silke Beck
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany

Heleen de Coninck
Department of Environmental Science, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Willem Halffman
Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Mike Hulme
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Thomas Gieryn
Department of Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

Marga Jacobs
Faculty of Management, Science & Technology (MST), Open Universiteit, Heerlen, The Netherlands

Phil Macnaghten
Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Clark Miller
School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Katja Neves
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Martin Pastoors
Chief Science Officer, Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

Ad Ragas
Faculty of Management, Science & Technology (MST), Open Universiteit, Heerlen, The Netherlands

Willemijn Tuinstra
Tuinstra KennisAdvies,  Bilthoven, the Netherlands

Esther Turnhout
Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Claire Waterton
Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Laurence Williams
Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK