Arjen E.J. Wals

Arjen E.J. Wals
Wageningen UR & Gothenburg University · education and competence studies

Prof

About

338
Publications
93,205
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9,266
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - present
University of Gothenburg
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • Education for Sustainable Development
August 2013 - present
Cornell University
Position
  • Adjunct Faculty Member
March 2003 - present
Wageningen University & Research
Position
  • Professor of Social Learning and Sustainable Development

Publications

Publications (338)
Article
Purpose By envisioning the learning environment as an eco-social system, this study aims to map interrelated enablers of students’ sustainability-oriented learning (SoL) in the context of a university course at the interface of science and society. Design/methodology/approach A case-study approach was used to delineate what enables student learnin...
Chapter
Tis chapter seeks to identify potentialities and challenges in using the social learning approach as a framework for the multi-stakeholder interactions involved in initiatives for the regeneration of urban streams in contexts of socio-ecological vulnerability. Te analysis is built on the case study of the Taquara Stream, located in the city of Port...
Chapter
The degradation of urban streams is a pressing problem in many cities around the world. Particularly in the so-called Global South, this degradation is associated with factors such as poverty, unplanned settlements, social exclusion, lack of basic sanitation infrastructure, poor management of water resources and inefficiencies in environmental gove...
Chapter
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Essa pesquisa abordou a relação entre processos de aprendizagem coletiva e o desenvolvimento de práticas para a sustentabilidade no contexto de uma iniciativa local, na cidade de Porto Alegre/RS. Tal iniciativa tem como objetivo a recuperação socioambiental de um importante curso d’água local, o Arroio Taquara, e da área abrangida por sua bacia. In...
Research
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This background paper introduces our plans for collaboration, learning and action within the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) research network. It sits alongside others addressing the conceptual foundations of TESF (Tikly et al. 2020), the role of education for sustainable livelihoods (McGrath 2020) and cities (Parnell & Bazaz,...
Chapter
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Este capítulo reflete sobre os processos dialógicos promovidos por uma experiência de Aprendizagem Social observada em uma iniciativa para a recuperação socioambiental de um córrego degradado na cidade de Porto Alegre. A iniciativa é promovida pelo Grupo de Tranbalho da Bacia do Arroio Taquara, um grupo de perfil interdisciplinar constituído por me...
Research
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The first aim of this foundations paper is to develop initial understanding based on a critical engagement with the existing literature of how key terms that are used to frame the work of the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) Network Plus are understood. In particular, the paper will seek to develop working definitions of the id...
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This research investigates the state of student participation in the Eco-Schools programme in two selected secondary schools located in Spain and the Netherlands. The focus is on understanding the levers of student participation and of the factors leading to a whole-school approach. Engeström’s Second Generation Activity Systems Model is used as an...
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This empirical paper addresses the need for more in depth understanding of signs and characteristics of transgressive learning in a context of runaway climate change. In a world characterized by systemic global dysfunction, there is an urgency to foster rapid systemic change which can steer our paths towards meeting the SDG goals. The contention of...
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Territorial problems such as the socio-ecological degradation of urban rivers represent a great challenge to achieving sustainability in cities. This issue demands collaborative efforts and the crossing of boundaries determined by actors that act from diverse spheres of knowledge and systems of practice. Based on an integrative territory notion and...
Book
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The sustainable governance of water resources relies on processes of multi-stakeholder collaborations and interactions that facilitate knowledge co-creation and social learning. Governance systems are often fragmented, forming a barrier to adequately address the myriad of challenges affecting water resources, including climate change, increased urb...
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In times of global systemic dysfunction, there is an increasing need to bridge higher education with community-based learning environments so as to generate locally relevant responses towards sustainability challenges. This can be achieved by creating and supporting so-called learning ecologies that blend informal community-based forms of learning...
Article
Community-based initiatives and collective learning practices are key themes in sustainability transition processes. This paper presents the results of a participatory study that investigated a local initiative in the community of Lomba do Pinheiro in south Brazil to examine social learning processes in the context of socio-ecological vulnerability...
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In this editorial, the authors (and guest editors) introduce the Special Issue titled Understanding Game-based Approaches for Improving Sustainable Water Governance: The Potential of Serious Games to Solve Water Problems. The authors take another look at the twelve contributions, starting from the subtitle question: what is the potential? The autho...
Article
This article investigates the relevance of the work of the Latin-American thinkers Humberto Maturana and Paulo Freire to learning-based transformations towards sustainability. This analysis was inspired by a case study of a Brazilian urban community seeking to develop pathways towards sustainable living and was informed by a review of their key wor...
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Most of the literature on serious games and gamification calls for a shift from evaluating practices to using theories to assess them. While the former is necessary to justify using game-based approaches, the latter enables understanding “why” game-based approaches are beneficial (or not). Based on earlier review papers and the papers in this speci...
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The article analyzes Tidal River Management in Bangladesh from a social learning perspective. Four cases were investigated using participatory assessment. Knowledge acquisition through transformations in the Tidal River Management process was explored as an intended learning outcome. The study finds that social learning occurred more prominently at...
Article
This editorial introduction of a Special Issue on Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) in the Benelux Region discusses the motivation to gather ESE research contributions from Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg and gives an overview of the collection. The purpose is twofold. On the one hand, we wanted to present and discuss traditi...
Article
As an introductory article of a Special Issue on Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) in the Benelux region, this paper provides an overview of ESE research, policy and practice in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. It discusses the different contributions in this collection with regard to how the central theme of this issue, the...
Article
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There is an urgent need to address the grand sustainability challenges of our time, and to explore new and more responsible ways of operating, researching, and innovating that enable society to respond to these challenges. The emergent Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) policy agenda can act as a catalyst towards the development of new and m...
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Modern day challenges of water resource management involve difficult decision-making in the face of increasing complexity and uncertainty. However, even if all decision-makers possessed perfect knowledge, water management decisions ultimately involve competing values, which will only get more prominent with increasing scarcity and competition over...
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Novel methods for enhancing collaboration and interactions are required to ensure that stakeholders and governments are able to develop a shared vision that supports sustainable watershed governance. Particular attention must be placed on integrating stakeholders who would otherwise have limited decision-making power. By crossing professional, ideo...
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p>The data presented in this article is related to the research article entitled ‘Serious games as a catalyst for boundary crossing, collaboration and knowledge co-creation in a watershed governance context’ (Jean et al., In press) [1]. Understanding the team dynamics related to serious game simulations is critical for understanding the potential u...
Article
Social learning is crucial for local smallholder farmers in developing countries to improve their adaptive capacity and to adapt to the current and projected impacts of climate change. While it is widely acknowledged that social learning is a necessary condition for adaptation, few studies have systematically investigated under which conditions par...
Article
Governments fulfil important roles in increasing the adaptive capacity of local communities to respond to climate change impacts, particularly in developing countries. Existing studies on how governments enable and constrain the ways in which local level communities learn and build their adaptive capacity, however, generally adopt network or market...
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Climate change as expressed by erratic rainfall, increased flooding, extended droughts, frequency tropical cyclones or saline water intrusion, poses severe threats to smallholder farmers in Vietnam. Adaptation of the agricultural sector is vital to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in times of climate change. To complement...
Article
The forestry sector is generally transitioning towards becoming more inclusive, responsive and responsible, thus creating an increasingly dynamic professional environment. Many universities are thus broadening the scope of traditional forestry programmes towards a more transdisciplinary paradigm. This paper assesses the transdisciplinary approach u...
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Regional sustainability networks in the Netherlands are rooted in regional culture and have an emphasis on social learning and effective collaboration between multiple actors. The national ‘Duurzaam Door’ (Moving Forward Sustainably) Policy Programme regards these networks as generative governance arrangements where new knowledge, actions and relat...
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A responsive curriculum addresses the changing needs of students, bridging the gap between universal knowledge and theories on one hand and contextual, continuously changing realities of everyday life and the world of work, on the other. Though several higher education institutions appreciate the value of making curriculum responsive, how to do thi...
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Education and lifelong learning are increasingly being mobilised to address the global environmental crisis and accompanying sustainability challenges. This article discusses the many roles of education about and for sustainable development, drawing on evidence and arguments put forward in the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report, Education for...
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In this article, based on a keynote address presented at the 68th OMEP World Assembly and International Conference held in Seoul in July 2016, it is argued that children are more in tune with sustainability than most adults and that both adults and children can benefit from intergenerational dialogue and expanded learning opportunities in so-called...
Article
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This contribution provides some insights in possible future developments in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE). Some challenges for the field are presented in light of a rapidly changing world that has homogenizing and polarizing tendencies. Four different movements and emphases within education, communication, and participation in re...
Article
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Successful implementation climate change adaptation depends to a large extent on the capabilities of individuals, organizations, and communities to create and mobilize the adaptive capacity (AC) of their socio-ecological system. Creating and mobilizing AC is a continuous process that requires social learning (SL). Although rich with empirical cases...
Chapter
This chapter presents three cases that demonstrate a variety of interactions between residents and expert leaders in fostering sustainability innovations in cities. It looks at sustainable cities in Sweden, Japan, and the Netherlands, focusing on common principles that may help explain their success as well as the role of environmental education an...
Chapter
This chapter considers an alternative socially critical perspective on environmental education, the emphasis of which is on the influence of cultural norms and structural features of society on people's environmental actions and the need for participatory approaches that engage citizens in creating and determining appropriate actions to realize the...
Chapter
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We have entered the Anthropocene (Gibson et al. 2015), an era of human-caused global systemic dysfunction where the same species that caused this dysfunction also has the responsibility to turn the tide and respond. How to live lightly, equitably, meaningfully and empathically (i.e. towards the past and the future, towards different cultures, the n...
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Educational design research yields design knowledge, often in the form of design principles or guidelines that provide the rationale or 'know-why' for the design of educational interventions. As such, design principles can be utilized by designers in contexts other than the research context in which they were generated. Although research has shown...
Article
This paper explores the emerging concept of buen vivir – interpreted as integrative and collective well-being – as it is being envisioned and practiced by a network of sustainability initiatives in Colombia. As an example of a transition narrative currently taking place in Latin America and beyond, buen vivir represents a turn towards a more biocen...
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The sustainable governance of water resources relies on processes of multi-stakeholder collaborations and interactions that facilitate the sharing and integration of diverse sources and types of knowledge. In this context, it essential to fully recognize the importance of fostering and enhancing critical connections within and between networks of r...
Article
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p>The sustainable governance of water resources relies on processes of multi-stakeholder collaborations and interactions that facilitate the sharing and integration of diverse sources and types of knowledge. In this context, it is essential to fully recognize the importance of fostering and enhancing critical connections within and between networks...
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In line with the increasing calls for more transformative and transgressive learning in the context of sustainability studies, this article explores how encounters between different ontologies can lead to socio-ecological sustainability. With the dominant one-world universe increasingly being questioned by those who advocate the existence of many w...
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In today’s knowledge society, there is a demand for professionals who are able to create knowledge across boundaries of disciplines, professions and perspectives. Traditional universities, universities of applied sciences and institutions for vocational education are all challenged to educate these knowledge workers. Accordingly, these institutions...
Article
This paper reflects on the epistemological context for the co-design of a research programme on transformative, transgressive learning emerging at the nexus of climate change, water and food security, energy and social justice. It outlines a sequence of learning actions that we, as a group of collaborating partners in a Transformative Knowledge Net...
Book
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The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development gives a systematic and comprehensive overview of existing and upcoming research approaches for higher education for sustainable development. It provides a unique resource for researchers engaged in the field of higher education for sustainable development by connec...
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Many academic curricula suffer from a teacher­ centred focus on knowledge transfer and do not consider the societal needs for competences. This paper reflects on the transformation from theory­ centred towards competency-oriented curricula at three Vietnamese Agriculture Universities with support of a Netherlands-funded project. Experts guided the...
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The focus of this paper is on multi-loop social learning processes required to move towards more sustainable water governance. Multi-loop social learning is recognized as a crucial element to decision-making involving a process of managing change where the central methodological concern is with effectively engaging the necessary participation of sy...
Article
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An analysis of the literature supporting the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and a sample of its key products suggests that it failed to acknowledge or challenge neoliberalism as a hegemonic force blocking transitions towards genuine sustainability. The authors argue that the rationale for the Decade was idealistic and that globa...
Chapter
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Around the globe sustainable development and sustainability have moved from the periphery to the mainstream of policy, business development, governance, science and society. Sustainable development and sustainability tend to evoke a common understanding in that they generally refer to balancing multiple interests, being mindful of future generation...
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This report is a first step towards an appropriate country-based approach to Dutch support to dairy training and education in East Africa. No blueprint exists, as the situation differs very much from country to country. The report however provides an outline for assessing and improving dairy training and education and provides recommendations that...
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O čem se píše v časopise Science? Překlad textu: Wals, Arjen E. J., Michael Brody, Justin Dillon, Robert B. Stevenson (2014). Convergence Between Science and Environmental Education. Science, 344(6184), 583–584. DOI: 10.1126/science.1250515 Publikováno se souhlasem časopisu Science.
Article
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Managing social-ecological systems and human well being in a sustainable way requires knowledge of these systems in their full complexity. Multi-loop social learning is recognized as a crucial element to sustainable decision-making for land and water resources management involving a process of managing change where the central methodological concer...
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A common thread throughout this special issue is that sustainability is not a destiny one can eventually reach, but rather a continuous learning path towards transformation that should be profound (e.g. affecting moral standards and value systems), transversal (e.g. requiring the involvement of individuals, groups and collectives) and counter-hegem...
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Citizen science and concerns about sustainability can catalyze much-needed synergy between environmental education and science education.
Chapter
This chapter explores the utilization of social cohesion and diversity in creating more sustainable multi-cultural communities. Community greening is seen as a catalyst for sustainability-oriented social learning. Greening here is not the same as literally adding green to a community (trees, parks, gardens) – although that certainly can be a part o...
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In this contribution a key policy 'tool' used in the Dutch Environmental Edu-cation and Learning for Sustainability Policy framework is introduced as a means to develop a sense of place and associated ecological mindfulness. The key elements of this tool, called the vital coalition, are described while an example of its use in practice, is analysed...
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Success in high performance sport has always been highly valued. Today, lucrative contracts, sponsorship deals and opportunities for celebrity status are balanced against substantial time spent training and high chances of failure. With pressure mounting on athletes to make the most of their athletic ‘investment’, the temptation to compromise their...
Book
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This monograph provides four different reviews on social learning literature. Rather than seeking to be comprehensive, the reviews provide views on the social learning literature, from different perspectives. The papers scope aspects of the social learning literature, providing access to a wide body of literature(s) on social learning. This monogra...
Article
De kloof tussen duurzaam denken en duurzaam doen overbrug je door op scholen exacte vakken te integreren met natuur- en milieu-educatie en slimme ict-burgerwetenschap, meent de Wageningse onderwijskundige Arjen Wals.
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