Ethics in Plant and Environmental Sciences (Note: one edition per year in person; one online)

Course schedule

Dates Start time End time Coordinator registrations
15 September 2023 (in person) 09:00 17:00 Anouk de Plaa 20 / 25 Registration ended at 06/09/2023
1 November 2023 (Online) 09:00 17:00 Anouk de Plaa 4 / 25 Apply

Course description

When performing research and communicating the findings and conclusions scientists may be confronted with ethical dilemmas, some which they at first had not expected to be confronted. The question accordingly is how to deal with these dilemmas. This requires an insight in the ethical values and how these can be interpreted in the scientific context.

This course focuses on ethical issues that are encountered when doing research in plant and environmental sciences. It includes hands-on dealings with ethical, philosophical, and societal issues surrounding science.


  • to have a fair understanding of what environmental/agricultural ethics involves
    • its normative character;
    • imaginations of how the world should (ideally) be;
    • a practical orientation
    • critical reflection on normative arguments and basic concepts
  • critical assessment of arguments about nature and naturalness; the intrinsic value of nature/biodiversity
  • experience with joint deliberation about several practical ethical questions: (e.g. genetic engineering; environmental restoration and feeding ‘wild’ animals; ethical dilemmas in nature-inclusive agriculture)
  • reflection on the role of scientists in relation to societal/ethical debates

We recommend taking this course in combination with Research Integrity (RI), which focuses on key principles of good science and good scientific conduct, and on (ways of coping with) integrity tensions.

General Information

Target Group: PhDs and postdocs
Group size: Max. 25 participants
Course duration: 1 day
Language: English
Credit points: 0.3 ECTS
Name lecturer: Bernice Bovenkerk
Venue: B4014 Orion, Wageningen / Online


1. Introduction: ethics in practice + ethics game

2. Fundamental questions


3. Ethics of gene drive and de-extinction

4. Reflection on the role of science and scientists in ethical/societal debate


Reduced fee:
• PhD candidates of Wageningen University with an approved Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) who are registered at one of the WU graduate schools (EPS, PE&RC, VLAG, WASS, WIAS, WIMEK)
• Postdocs of Wageningen University who are registered at one of the WU graduate schools
€ 50
University fee: All other PhD candidates / Wageningen University postdocs and staff € 100
External fee: All other participants € 200

Fee includes study and training material, coffee/tea and lunch.


Online version:

for the online version, we only allow participants that are working abroad at the time the course is given. This to allow people mainly working abroad to join this course. We encouarge people how are in Wageningen to join the in person version.

Cancellation condition

You may cancel free of charge up to four weeks before the start of the course. After this date you will be charged the University fee. Unless:

  • You can find someone to replace you in the course and supply the course coordinator with the name and contact information of your replacement.
    In this case you will only be charged a € 50,- cancellation fee.
  • You (PhDs and postdocs of Wageningen University) have a valid reason to cancel (illness or death in the family 1st or 2nd degree).
    In this case you will be charged the reduced fee and your supervisor/PI must send a mail indicating the reason for cancellation.


For more information please contact Anouk de Plaa: