Adam Frank

Project Title: More-Than-Human Ethics in the Botanic Garden: An Experiment in Field Philosophy

Alongside botanical gardens worldwide, the University of Dundee Botanic Garden has been shifting its management practices towards greater environmental sustainability to support the critical contributions plants provide for maintaining life on Earth. In particular, the Garden has been working to understand and counteract ‘plant blindness’ towards the varied cultural and ecosystem contributions of plants by hosting ‘place-based experiences’ for visitors, linking biodiversity conservation, multispecies welfare, and climate crisis mitigation through events tailored to its ecologically diverse grounds. Accordingly, it provides a rich field for cultivating philosophical inquiry into the creation of environmental values and experiences.

My thesis pursues these ethical themes by investigating how volunteers and staff interact with the more-than-human agents (plants and animals) living within the Garden. Adopting a fieldwork approach to philosophy termed ‘field philosophy’, I employ a methodological pluralism that borrows research methods from the arts and social sciences to meet two specific objectives: 1) engage situated ethical experiences outside scholarly environments, and 2) create collaborative philosophical understandings of these experiences that can support their growth. My methods involve field notes, diary entries, interviews, and participant observation, and I aim to produce a collaborative public engagement event and conclude with a reflexive pedagogical account of my work.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Philosophy

University: University of Dundee

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