CoP Netherlands

On 10th October 2023, the Wageningen University & Research Team for LOESS organized the kick-off meeting for The Netherlands LOESS Community of Practice (CoP), at Wageningen University Campus, marking the beginning of an exciting journey that will continue until June 2026. The CoP has been created under LOESS – an EU-funded project. The LOESS CoP aims to bring together multiple actors from multiple disciplines to allow dialogues and insights on how to reorient education to embed soil health education. 

WHO ARE WE?

The Netherlands LOESS CoP involves experts from different disciplines and sectors, including soil scientists, education experts, artists, NGOs representatives, agribusiness professionals, and other stakeholders.  

In the kick-off meeting, the following CoP members were present:  

  • Johan Bouma – Em. professor of Soil science, Wageningen University & Research  
  • Dienke Stomph – PhD and lecturer at the Cultural Geography Group, Wageningen University and Research  
  • Giulia Bongiorno – Postdoc in the Soil Biology Group, Wageningen University & Research  
  • Vikoriia Sakun – International Business Manager, Agrocares  
  • Alba Bofill Izquierdo – Project Manager and Agronomist, Agrocares  
  • Nicolas Beriot – Postdoc at the Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University & Research  
  • Kate Foster – Independent environmental artist  
  • Ingrid Lubbers – Lecturer with the Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University and Research  
  • Simon Moolenaar – Director Knowledge, Education, and Innovation, Commonland Gerlinde de Deyn – Professor in Soil Ecology, Wageningen University & Research Valentina Tassone – Assistant Professor at the Education and Learning Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research  
  • Divya Pandey – Postdoc at the Education and Learning Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research  
  • Camilla Ramezzano – Lecturer and Researcher at Education and Learning Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research  

The Netherlands CoP will continue to grow by including new members, thus offering further opportunities to enhance our collective knowledge and expertise and contribute to a broader perspective and new ideas. 

 

 

Key insights surfaced during the initial phase of our Community of Practice (CoP) include: 

  • Soil-related education in schools appears to be limited.  
  • A shift in paradigm about how we understand and relate to soil is needed but it is also happening!  
  • The primary focus should be on soil science education, given the absence of a universally agreed-upon definition for soil health.  
  • Curiosity is key. Fostering curiosity about soil emerged as a critical step towards raising soil health awareness and promoting education, for example, researching citizen engagement through art.  
  • A bottom-up approach should be adopted, which positions lighthouses as crucial tools. This approach is farmer-led, more respectful, and, consequently, more effective in identifying what works for both the soil and the farmers.  

The CoP members come from different backgrounds, and their perspectives on soil health education may vary widely. Nevertheless, in the end, these different perspectives can converge and create interesting common grounds. Each member brought their unique wealth of experiences and perspectives to the topic of soil health ranging from exploring, why is soil-health awareness important to how to utilize technology for soil health education. Some are deeply involved in teaching soil science and soil management or engaged in citizen science projects, while others advocate for a paradigm shift in soil literacy and soil management via arts, grassroot movements, and technology. 

Moving beyond individual experiences and commonalities, the WU LOESS CoP’s final goal is to engage the public by transcending the boundaries of science and academia. The CoP strives to pique people’s interest through the mediums of science, art, and education, involving activities tied to artists and educational courses. The community seeks to shift the paradigm through which we study, observe, teach, and approach soil. CoP’s vision extends to reimagining landscapes that include cultural character and ecosystems, moving beyond land use as the sole focus. This shift encompasses new ways of experiencing, understanding, and treating soil and raising awareness about soil agency. Furthermore, this approach emphasizes the role of soil health within the broader context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WU LOESS CoP recognizes the value of collaboration with stakeholders in living lab contexts that address sustainability challenges, aspiring to restore our relationship with soil.

BASED IN:

Wageningen University & Research (Wageningen) 

MEMBERS

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