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Webinar: ‘Who do we think we are? A new perspective on humans and the natural world’

16 December, 2021 @ 4:00 pm 6:00 pm


The crises that characterize the era that we have started to call the Anthropocene demand a fundamental reflection on the position that we humans have taken on this planet. Many philosophers claim that our view of nature as a storehouse of goods and services and space that can be colonized needs to change radically in order to create a truly sustainable future for humanity. The French philosopher Michel Serres proposes a ‘nature contract’ in which we approach nature as a subject with own rights. When nature would move from a position of object to subject, what are the implications for science?


Matthijs Schouten is an ecologist, philosopher and buddhist and is interested in the role that nature plays in human thought. Matthijs currently works at Staatsbosbeheer and is professor of Nature and landscape conservation at University College Cork en University College Galway (Ireland). He is emeritus professor of Nature conservation and plant ecology at the University of Wageningen. Matthijs is author of the book “Spiegel van de Natuur: Het Natuurbeeld in Cultuurhistorisch Perspectief” (Nature’s Mirror: the Image of Nature in Cultural-Historical Perspective).

About ‘Future Scientists’

By now, most people are aware of the seriousness of climate change and the ecological crisis (e.g., see this 2019 EU Survey). However, awareness by itself may not lead to behavioral change, let alone system and cultural change.

In the Future Scientists webinar series, we explore how to go forward in the decisive decade to come. As scholars and scientists, what is our role in contributing towards the “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” (IPCC) required to stay below 1,5 °C of warming? What system or cultural changes need to be discussed more widely, and how to best communicate that? Lastly, taking a more introspective view, how do we cope with emotions coming from the barrage of “bad news” regarding the state of our planet?