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Prof. dr. mr. ir.Doorn, N. (Neelke)

Delft University of Technology
Section: Philosophy
Faculty: Technology, Policy and Management

Distinguished Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor (full professor)/Vidi researcher.

Research interests: ethics of water engineering - philosophy of technology - water ethics - resilience - responsible innovation - philosophy of risk - ethics and design

Visiting address

Jaffalaan 5 Delft Room B4.050

Mail address

P.O. Box 5015 2628 BX Delft The Netherlands



Neelke Doorn is distinguished Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor “Ethics of Water Engineering” at the Department of Philosophy of Delft University of Technology and Director of Education of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. She has authored/co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Until 2020, Neelke was Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology and member of the Board of the Society for Philosophy and Technology. Together with Diane P. Michelfelder, Neelke is editor of the Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Engineering (2021). Another recent book publication is the monograph Water Ethics: An Introduction (2019), published with Rowman & Littlefield. Neelke is member of the Water Ethics Working Group of the Sustainable Water Future Programme.

Research profile

Neelke’s primary research is dedicated to moral questions in water governance and in relation to the management of environmental risks and climate change, which she studies through the lens of resilience. In 2013, she received a personal NWO Veni grant for her project The ethics of flood risk management. In 2019, she received a personal NWO Vidi grant for her project “Responsibility arrangements in resilience policy for climate adaptation”. In addition to these personal grants, Neelke works on several project grants funded under different NWO and H2020 schemes.

Together with Michael Nagenborg, Neelke works on the BRIDE project, which aims to explore the role of smart public infrastructure in making and re-making of public space. This project was funded under the Smart Culture – Creative Cities scheme.

In the past years, she also received various grants within the NWO Responsible Innovation (in Dutch: Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Innoveren; MVI) scheme (two 375 kEuro grants in 2015 and a 500 kEuro grant in 2016). Her most recent MVI-grant is on crowd-based innovations, which are initiatives in which citizens collectively initiate activities, provide services, or arrange funding (e.g., local wind farms, community gardens, off-the-grid water treatment, repair cafes). These initiatives may provide opportunities for addressing societal challenges, but they may also pose significant challenges as they often occur in the context of traditional, well-established, institutional and governance structures and practices. The gap between these traditional structures and radically new initiatives prompts questions about how public values (quality, legitimacy, efficiency, equity) can be safeguarded. More information on the other MVI projects can be found on the website of the frugal innovation project and the Values4Water project.

Read more about Neelke’s research here. A recording of Neelke’s inaugural address “Values in water” can be viewed here. The full text of the address can be downloaded here (Dutch) and here (English).

Educational background

Neelke has degrees in Civil Engineering (TU Delft 1997, BSc+MSc, cum laude), Philosophy (Leiden 2005, BA+MA, cum laude) and Law (Open University 2016, LLB+LLM, cum laude). In May 2011, she obtained her PhD degree from the TU Delft for her thesis on Moral Responsibility in R&D networks.

Past research and working experience

Neelke has ten years of working experience as a research engineer in the field of coastal engineering (1998-2007). In 2007, Neelke joined the Philosophy Section of the TU Delft. Between 2006 and 2010, she was also affiliated with the Radboud University in Nijmegen, where she held a part-time research position at the Centre of Ethics focusing on global justice issues. Neelke spent the spring 2010 term as visiting researcher at the Philosophy Department of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, where she did research on the philosophy of risks. In 2011, Neelke was awarded a grant to spend two months at the Brocher Foundation, a Suisse private law Foundation that facilitates multidisciplinary research on the legal, social, and ethical aspects of medicine and new technologies.

In 2013, the edited volume Early Engagement and New Technologies: Opening Up the Laboratory appeared, of which Neelke was the leading editor. Neelke was also one of the co-editors of the edited volume Responsible Innovation: Innovative Solutions for Global Issues.

Other academic activities

Neelke has organized several international conferences and workshops, including the international conference on moral responsibility at TU Delft (August 24-27, 2009), the international workshop on “Ethics in the laboratory. Encouraging reflection through interdisciplinary collaboration” (together with Daan Schuurbiers and Ibo van de Poel) at TU Delft on October 22-23 2010, and the first international conference on Responsible Innovation in The Hague in April 2011. In 2012, Neelke initiated an international expert community on water ethics. More information can be found at her water website. In her position as board member of the Graduate School of the Department of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft (2014-15), Neelke organized several PhD seminars with international speakers.

Neelke is regularly invited to give public talks about topics on the interface of technology, risk, and morality. She regularly publishes opinion pieces in international and national newspapers. She also published several blogs on the academic philosophy blog Bij Nader Inzien (in Dutch).

Published books and volumes (selection)

Water Ethics Public Forgiveness
Cover_Responsible Innovation 1 Volume_Van den Hoven Cover_Early Engagement Volume_Doorn Thesis_Doorn


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