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Engaging employers, graduates and students to inform the future curriculum needs of soil science

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Abstract

This paper reports on the findings of a project to investigate the future needs of a soil science curriculum to produce work-ready graduates. Soil scientists are expected to deal with increasingly complex problems and graduates are required to not only have well developed soil science knowledge and skills, but can also work between and across other disciplines communicate their findings appropriately. Survey results obtained from current students, graduates and employers of soil science indicated some areas of discipline knowledge that need to be addressed, as well as more emphasis on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Employers also expressed the desire to not only provide advice on curriculum change but a willingness to be involved in the learning environment. Using problem based learning as the scaffold an example of how industry maybe engaged is provided. Issues are raised around the need to align the graduate outcomes for soil science with Threshold Learning Outcomes for Science and Agriculture and the need for a core-body of knowledge (CBoK) that characterise graduates with soil science knowledge. As a result of widespread stakeholder consultations during the project a set of soil science teaching principles was developed (Field, Koppi, Jarrett, Abbott, Cattle, Grant, McBratney, Menzies, & Weatherly, 2011).
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ENGAGING EMPLOYERS, GRADUATES AND
STUDENTS TO INFORM THE FUTURE
CURRICULUM NEEDS OF SOIL SCIENCE
Damien J. Field, Anthony J. Koppi, Lorna Jarrett, Alex McBratney
Presenting Author: Damien Field (damien.field@sydney.edu.au)
Department of Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2016, Australia
KEYWORDS: Action learning, experiential learning, teaching principles,
ABSTRACT
This paper reports on the findings of a project to investigate the future needs of a soil science curriculum to produce work-ready
graduates. Soil scientists are expected to deal with increasingly complex problems and graduates are required to not only have
well developed soil science knowledge and skills, but can also work between and across other disciplines communicate their
findings appropriately. Survey results obtained from current students, graduates and employers of soil science indicated some
areas of discipline knowledge that need to be addressed, as well as more emphasis on developing critical thinking and problem
solving skills. Employers also expressed the desire to not only provide advice on curriculum change but a willingness to be
involved in the learning environment. Using problem based learning as the scaffold an example of how industry maybe
engaged is provided. Issues are raised around the need to align the graduate outcomes for soil science with Threshold
Learning Outcomes for Science and Agriculture and the need for a core-body of knowledge (CBoK) that characterise graduates
with soil science knowledge. As a result of widespread stakeholder consultations during the project a set of soil science
teaching principles was developed (Field, Koppi, Jarrett, Abbott, Cattle, Grant, McBratney, Menzies, & Weatherly, 2011).
Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Australian National University, Sept 19th to
Sept 21st, 2013, pages 130-135, ISBN Number 978-0-9871834-2-2.
INTRODUCTION
This paper reports on an ALTC funded project concerned with the knowledge, skills and capabilities
needed to produce work-ready graduates with soil science knowledge which is relevant to the future
needs of Australia. This is informed using feedback from current soil science students and graduates,
and employers requiring soil science expertise. The paper also describes an approach that can be
used to incorporate industry into the ‘classroom’ to further develop students’ problem solving skills.
Soil is identified as being integral to many of the problems facing ecological and societal systems,
including the challenges of: food, water & energy security, loss of biodiversity, and climate change
abatement (Hartemink & McBratney, 2008; Flannery, 2010; Janzen, Fixen, Franzluebbers, Hattey,
Izaurralde, Ketterings, Lobb, & Schlesinger, 2011; Koch, McBratney, Adams, Field, D., Lal, Abbott,
Angers, Baldock, Barbier, Binkley, Bird, Bouma, Chenu, Crawford, Flora, Goulding, Grunwald,
Hempel, Jastrow, Lehmann, Lorenz, Minasny, Morgan, O’Donnell, Parton, Rice, Wall, Whitehead,
Young, & Zimmermann, 2013). This recognition means that those who identify as soil scientists or
having soil science expertise will need to engage with a variety of people to identify what the
problems are, and in doing so, work towards providing solutions to these ever increasing complex
environmental problems. Not only do they need to have high levels of knowledge, skills and
capabilities in soil science but they will have to be able to work between and across other disciplines
to address these pressing issues. As pointed out by Bouma (2010) solving complex contemporary
problems will not solely rely on the objective (science) answers of right or wrong, but also the
relativistic (societal and political) answers that consider decisions as ‘better’ or ‘worse’. Therefore,
future graduates need to be able to engage with scientists from their own and other disciplines, policy
experts, and users of relevant soil information (Wesslock, 2006).
To respond to this the soil science community undertook a process to review the needs of a future soil
science curriculum. Curriculum change can be approached by reflecting on the feedback from
stakeholders and the experiences of those who teach, as well as, from those who are learning (Jarvis
et al., 2012). Knowing the role society is now expecting of soil science, feedback from employers,
graduates, current students and academics were identified as representatives of the soil science
community and their involvement should prove useful in evaluating curriculum change as required.
With this in mind a 2-year project was established with the aim to develop a soil science curriculum
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that will produce work-ready graduates with the interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and capabilities
relevant to the needs of Australia (Field, Koppi, Jarrett, McBratney, Abbott, Grant, Kopittke, Menzies,
& Weatherly, 2012).
METHODS
This project involved core participants form the Universities of Sydney (lead), Adelaide, Melbourne,
Queensland, and Western Australia. Part of the research was conducted using data collected via
surveys of current students, graduates and academics of soil science as well as their employers
(Ethics-12584). The surveying of current soil science undergraduates of the five participating
universities asked about the learning and teaching of soil science in relation to their experiences and
expectations. Informed by Fowler (2002), the design of the survey included open-responses in most
questions to avoid constraining student responses and was delivered on-line. There were 107
responses (24 % response rate) with over 300 comments made. Graduates with soil science
knowledge were asked if their education in soil science prepared them for their current employment,
which was delivered online generating 205 responses. The response rate could not be determined as
this survey was distributed through the alumni offices of each participating institution and their
adherence to confidentiality meant the number of surveys distributed was not provided. Fifty-two
employers (37 % response rate) from around Australia responded to their paper-based survey. While
a range of questions was asked of graduates and soil science employers, for the purposes of this
paper, the discipline knowledge, preparedness of graduates, and critical thinking abilities are most
relevant.
In the graduates and employers surveys the questions used a Likert scale ranging from ‘not at all
important’ (scored as 1) to ‘very important’ (scored as 5) and, each question queried what were their
needs’ as opposed to what they actually ‘got’. An attribute, skill or knowledge was identified as a
concern if their median rating for ‘need’ was a 5 and there was a significant difference between this
and what the employers or graduates perceived they actually ‘got’. The magnitude of the difference
between these two criteria enabled the importance of the attributes, skills and knowledge to be
ranked. For all surveys a thematic approach, as informed by Boyatzis (1998) and Bogdan and Biklen
(2002), was used to analyse the qualitative responses made. The detailed responses to the surveys
and relevant rankings identified from employer and graduate responses can be found in a report
submitted to the Office and Learning and Teaching by Field et al. (2012). For this paper the significant
concerns raised by students, graduates and employers using both the qualitative and quantitative
responses have been combined and presented here in Table (1).
The survey data was also used in a series of forums which where framed using a sequential action
learning-model approach, guided by Kelly, Reid, and Valentine (2006). This involved participants
coming together This approach was chosen as it recognises that the teaching of soil science
involves a community of: soil science teachers (with their own personal experiences of teaching),
students (with their own preferences for ways of learning), and the valuable input that can be provided
by soil science graduates, employers of soil scientists, other stakeholders, and the use of the
education literature (Field et al., 2011). The design of each forum used a combination of prior
consultation on topic tabled at each forum, bring participants together to meet, provision of
information to set the context, plenty of time for small mixed-group workshop activities, topics led by
team members with expert input only when required (Schön, 1987; Brookfield, 1995; Canadian
Literacy and Learning Network, 2011). The first forum involved academic staff reflecting on their
teaching practices, experiences, and the feedback provided by the student surveys, as a way to
inspire change (Jarrett, Field, & Koppi, 2011). The second forum required participants to further reflect
on the teaching and learning practices in response to feedback obtained from graduates and
employers. While the third forum focused on opportunities to develop common units of study between
the institutions involved.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
It is not surprising that discipline knowledge was identified by employers, graduates and current
students as being key to preparing them for the workplace (Table 1). Employers and graduates did
note that the level of knowledge was a concern, and in particular they noted that application of their
discipline knowledge to provide solutions to environmental issues was important. Employers also
identified that an understanding of how soil science knowledge is useful in systems approaches, and
that soil chemistry knowledge could also be improved. This focus on environmental issues
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demonstrates that soil science has moved from predominately servicing agriculture to addressing
environmental concerns (Havlin, Dalster, Chapman, Ferris, Thompson, & Smith, 2010; Hartemink,
2012).
The use of fieldwork and laboratories as teaching environments was identified as being essential
learning environments in preparing graduates for the workplace. This is a critical observation as
evidence is needed to justify fieldwork teaching in an environment when costs savings in teaching are
often promoted. Critical thinking and problem solving were consistently identified where improvements
could be made by all groups surveyed. Students stated that courses should always have a
component of critical thinking while employers and graduates ranked having the ability to identify the
problem from a mass of detail is a high priority and this also needs to be combined with improved
communication skills (Table 1). At the forums employers made it clear that writing skills in particular
need attention. This issue is not the technicalities of writing, i.e. spelling and grammar, but that
graduates focused only on the conclusions, neglecting the need to properly describe the problem and
how the problem was to be analysed which are basic requirements of clients. Team work was also
raised as a concern and employers did note that although this should be part of the teaching at
University that this will be further developed when graduates spend time in the workplace. The need
for good discipline knowledge, critical thinking, problem solving, and good communication skills for
soil science graduates is also supported internationally, as reported by Jarvis, Collett, Wingenbach,
Heilman, and Fowler (2012).
These concerns were reviewed at the second project forum which resulted in the development and
publication of a set of soil science teaching principles (Field et al., 2011). These principles reflect the
nature of soil and the practices of soil scientists. In particular, the principles emphasize the need to
engage students in authentic real-world problems, and be able to integrate their knowledge of soil
science in different situations. Soil related problems are part of a system and there is a need for
graduates to also recognise the social and economic dimensions when suggesting solutions to
problems being presented. Bouma and McBratney (2013) suggests that adopting teaching practices
based on these principles of problem-solving and recognition of interdisciplinarity in soil science
curricula will make a significant contribution to preparing graduates to effectively engage with complex
contemporary problems where the solutions are now not about ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ but a choice between
‘better’ of ‘worse’.
Although the development of on-going common units of study across the participating institutions
needs to still be realised the teaching and learning aspirations described in the teaching principles
and the desire to engage industry in the teaching soil science inspired the development of the
Teaching-Research-Industry-Learning nexus as described in Field, Koppi, and McBratney (2010). As
well as recognising the usual teaching practices of lectures, laboratories, fieldwork and the
opportunity of research, this nexus emphasizes the use of problem based learning as a framework to
engage industry into the learning environment. This is illustrated by a capstone soil science unit of
study at The University of Sydney. In this problem-based unit students work on authentic real-world
problems and its success relies on the involvement of industry and the community, i.e. as clients.
Student teams must negotiate, work with, and report to the client. To date industry and the community
have engaged students in a number of problems sourced from agricultural and environmental areas
situated in both rural and urban environments. As evidence of the real-world nature of the problems
some of the reports produced by students have actually been used by the client of the scenario. This
learning approach also requires students to consider problems as transdisciplinary. Table (2) is an
example of a list of questions that was raised when students considered the impact of changes in soil
organic carbon in the Hunter Wine Growing region requested by the Private Irrigation District (PID). It
is evident, as we move down through the questions, the need to engage other discipline knowledge
increases as does the complexity regarding possible solutions, moving towards decisions of ‘better’ or
‘worse’. The change in the communities that would be interested would need to be considered when
reporting the solutions. Although employers acknowledge that the knowledge, skills and capabilities
required to achieve this will develop with the on-going experiences in the workplace they do see the
benefit of introducing students to these experiences, thus their continued willingness to give their time
for this teaching activity.
Table 1: Major concerns from employers (Emp.) and graduates (Grad.) responses to qualitative
(quant., Likert ratings) and qualitative data (qual., written comments), as well as,
corresponding findings from the student surveys. The (!) indicates where there was a
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discrepancy identified by the groups surveyed between what they ‘need’ and what they ‘got’
(derived from Field et al., 2012)
Issue
Emp.
quant.
Emp.
qual.
Grad.
quant.
Discipline Knowledge
!
!
!
Discipline knowledge was the
most common reason cited
when students were asked how
their courses prepared them for
employment
Data interpretation/scientific
method
!
!
Applying knowledge and skills,
e.g. field measurements &
sampling/laboratory techniques
!
!
Students want more laboratory
and fieldwork or complain that
it’s missing from their courses.
These were overwhelmingly
seen as the most effective
learning activities
Written communication skills:
technical reports,
communicating to non-
discipline experts.
!
!
!
Critical thinking and problem
solving
!
!
!
Most students agreed that
courses should involve
problem-solving and critical
thinking. Currently these
activities comprise relatively
small proportions of the time.
Keeping up to date with
relevant developments
!
!
Contact with professionals in
industry/work place
!
Over one third of students
recognized that courses
involved input from industry
Interpersonal skills: team-
working and relating to clients
!
!
Apart from field and laboratory
work, activities are relatively
solitary.
Table 2: Aligning the types of questions with the characteristics of ‘Mode 1’ and ‘Mode 2’ types
of knowledge as defined in Nowotny, Scott, and Gibbons (2002).
A Range of Consulting Questions
Knowledge
Types of engagement
1) What quantity of soil organic carbon (SOC)
is required to benefit crop production
‘Mode 1’
Context: Academic
Who: discipline experts
Character: monodisciplinary, or
(interdisciplinary)
Ouput: publication
‘h-index’
2) What management practices will maintain or
increase SOC
3) How has the change in management
practices in the PID affected SOC quantities
‘Mode 2’
Context: Real-world
Who: Discipline experts
Stakeholders
Policy
Character: transdisciplinary
Ouput: novel procedures
societal effectiveness
4) How do we use SOC as a soil quality
indicator that will be seen as beneficial by the
PID
5) How can the SOC be used as carbon offsets
by the PID in a carbon trading scheme
CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK
Feedback from students, graduates and employers surveys and discussions in forums have identified
some concerns in knowledge, skills and capabilities that need to be addressed in future soil science
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curriculums to produce work-ready graduates. The ability to apply soil science knowledge across
disciplines and to environmental systems and, to develop the critical thinking and problem solving
were identified by all groups surveyed. A set of teaching principles has been develop and published to
address these changes and as a framework to map the different teaching practices and encourage
fieldwork and problem-based learning environments. Where possible this problem-based learning
should involve participation of industry and community groups and focus on authentic real-world
problems.
During the project a number of over-arching learning outcomes where developed and published (Field
et al., 2011). With the advent of the Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLO’s) initiative there may be a
need to determine how the soil science graduate outcomes align and contribute to the TLO’s
produced for Bachelor of Science (Jones & Yates, 2011) and the future the TLO’s being developed for
Agriculture (Acuna, Lane, Kelder, & Hannan, 2012), at a course and institutional levels (Table 3). As
with the problem-based learning questions, a key characteristic of the graduate outcomes is the
recognition of engaging with other disciplines, recognise the contextual nature of problems, and ability
to work with and communicate with the broader community, which is illustrated as you move through
the graduate outcomes from 1 to 4 (Table 3). These soil science graduate outcomes guide the unit of
study described earlier.
Table 3: Soil science graduate outcomes (Field et al., 2011) aligned with the TLO’s for Science
(Jones et al., 2011).
Soil Science Graduate Outcomes
Threshold Learning
Outcomes, for Science
1) Identification, understanding and application of the unique features of
Soil Science
align with 1.1 & 1.2
2) The role, context and relationships of Soil Science to other disciplines
and society as part of interrelated systems
align with 2.1 &2.2
3) Identify problems and designing relevant contextual solutions
align with 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, & 3.4
4) The ability to coordinate and function within and between relevant
groups and effectively communicate results.
align with 4.1
5) Manage self for personal development and lifelong learning
align with 5.1, 5.2, & 5.3
Finally, in the later forums the question of needing a core body of knowledge (CBoK) for soil science
was flagged. Since there is no degree in soil science and that it is taught in many courses such as in
Agriculture, Earth Science, and Environmental Sciences, participants queried if there is a need to
develop a CBoK to guarantee a minimum standard of knowledge of graduates. They also asked if a
CBoK is developed what will be the framework around this to ensure that this CBoK is reviewed
regularly keeping it up-to-date and relevant to produce work-ready competent graduates with soil
science expertise.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. The final
report can be found at the Office of Learning and Teaching; http://www.olt.gov.au/resource-national-
soil-science-curriculum-response-needs-students-academic-staff-industry-and-wider-
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... Soil is identified as being central to many of the challenges facing society including; food, water & energy security, supporting biodiversity, and being a potential reservoir for future pharmaceutical, all of which contribute to human health and wellbeing (Bouma, 2014;Brevik, 2013;Field et al., 2013;Koch et al., 2013;McBratney et al., 2014). This, in part, has resulted in the teaching of soil science to no longer being confined to its traditional founding in agriculture and agronomy, and is now included in disciplines or majors including; botany, forestry, ecology, geography, geology, and hydrology (Brevik, 2009;Hartemink et al., 2014). ...
... Generally, academic research may focus mainly on advancing disciplinary knowledge and this is often expanded to include multi-disciplinary considerations when universities engage in 'industry problems'. Focusing on producing 'work-ready' graduates Field et al. (2013) argued that students will benefit from the interplay of teaching-research-industry learning, which was identified by Koppi and Naghdy (2009) as the Teaching-Research-Industry-Learning (TRIL) nexus. A review of this concept for ICT has been published by McGill et al. (2012) where they considered TRIL as a tetrahedron of these four dimensions. ...
... As students become more experienced with the academic processes, their learning may become more active in that they themselves decide on the topics and methods they pursue while the teachers facilitate or guide these methods rather than prescribing them ( Fig. 1). In soil science this often involves the inclusion of fieldwork and laboratories and as reported by Field et al. (2013), was identified by current students, graduates and employers as an effective learning environment; contributing to the development of independent thinking and practices to meet the academic goals required for workready graduates. The shift from gaining knowledge towards knowledge creation is labelled in Fig. 1 as research. ...
... According to Field (Field et al., 2013;Field et al., 2017) students will benefit from the interplay of teaching and research, and field-school (practical abilities) is much more effective than traditional lecturing. Field lessons are one of the most effective techniques in teaching soil science (Kasimov et al., 2013;Hartemink et al., 2014;Al-Maktoumi et al., 2016, Urbańska et al., 2019Smith et al., 2020). ...
... According to Field (Field et al., 2013;Field et al., 2017) students will benefit from the interplay of teaching and research, and field-school (practical abilities) is much more effective than traditional lecturing. Field lessons are one of the most effective techniques in teaching soil science (Kasimov et al., 2013;Hartemink et al., 2014;Al-Maktoumi et al., 2016, Urbańska et al., 2019Smith et al., 2020). ...
... Soils are now of great interest in sustainable food production, biofuels, erosion control, nutrient depletion and many other issues. The holistic approach to soil science has a reflex in teaching that no longer is confined to agriculture and agronomy but it has expanded to be included in other courses like botany, ecology, geography, hydrology, etc. (WESSOLEK, 2006;HARTEMINK et al., 2014) in expectation that soil science teaching will provide knowledge, skills and capacities to work across disciplines, to produce a wide range of problem-solving scenarios and to address increasingly complex environmental problems (FIELD et al., 2013;FIELD et al., 2017). ...
... Soils are now of great interest in sustainable food production, biofuels, erosion control, nutrient depletion and many other issues. The holistic approach to soil science has a reflex in teaching that no longer is confined to agriculture and agronomy but it has expanded to be included in other courses like botany, ecology, geography, hydrology, etc. (WESSOLEK, 2006;HARTEMINK et al., 2014) in expectation that soil science teaching will provide knowledge, skills and capacities to work across disciplines, to produce a wide range of problem-solving scenarios and to address increasingly complex environmental problems (FIELD et al., 2013;FIELD et al., 2017). ...
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Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus é conhecido especialmente por ter feito a tradução da Bíblia adotada pela Igreja Católica, a Vulgata. Sua importância, porém, reside muito além dessa tradução e dos estudos interpretativos sobre seu conteúdo. São Jerônimo legou-nos um trabalho intelectual produzido durante mais de quarenta anos – o que o faz patrono dos tradutores, bibliotecários e enciclopedistas. Conforme registrado no Corpus Iuris Canonici, em 20 de setembro de 1295 o papa Bonifácio VIII conferiu-lhe o título de Doutor da Igreja. Durante o Renascimento, a arte pictórica de Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernardino Luini, Domenico Ghirlandaio, entre outros, mostra Jerônimo como santo de duas maneiras: em algumas representações, é um estudioso, sereno, amante dos livros; em outras, uma pessoa atormentada, sofrida. Nessas condutas de vida antagônicas, o modo de vida penitente e monacal enfatiza a humildade necessária para se entrar em comunhão com Cristo, ao passo que o estilo de vida intelectual confere a sabedoria necessária para a tradução e interpretação de uma obra sagrada. Por essas duas atuações, São Jerônimo foi considerado santo. Baseando-nos na própria produção literária que retrata sua trajetória de vida, bem como em algumas obras atuais, buscaremos mostrar e interpretar quais foram os elementos primordiais que levaram ao culto de Jerônimo como santo, ocorrido no Renascimento: se pelo aspecto de monge asceta ou de intelectual que traduziu e interpretou a palavra de Deus. Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus is known especially for having made the translation of the Bible adopted by the Catholic Church, the Vulgate. Its importance, however, lies far beyond this translation and interpretive studies on its content. Jerome bequeathed us an intellectual work produced for more than forty years - which makes him the patron of translators, librarians and encyclopedists. As recorded in the Corpus Iuris Canonici, on September 20, 1295 Pope Boniface VIII conferred him the title of Doctor of the Church. During the Renaissance, the pictorial art of Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernardino Luini, Domenico Ghirlandaio, among others, shows Jerônimo as a saint in two ways: in some representations, he is a scholar, serene, a lover of books; in others, a tormented, suffering person. In these antagonistic ways of life, the penitent and monastic way of life emphasizes the humility necessary to enter into communion with Christ, while the intellectual lifestyle gives the necessary wisdom for the translation and interpretation of a sacred work. For these two performances, Jerome was considered a saint. Based on the literary production itself that portrays his life trajectory, as well as on some current works, we will seek to show and interpret what were the primordial elements that led to the cult of Jerome as a saint, which occurred in the Renaissance: whether by the aspect of an ascetic monk or intellectual who translated and interpreted the word of God.
... Soils are now of great interest in sustainable food production, biofuels, erosion control, nutrient depletion and many other issues. The holistic approach to soil science has a reflex in teaching that no longer is confined to agriculture and agronomy but it has expanded to be included in other courses like botany, ecology, geography, hydrology, etc. 24,25 in expectation that soil science teaching will provide knowledge, skills and capacities to work across disciplines, to produce a wide range of problem-solving scenarios and to address increasingly complex environmental problems 26,27 . ...
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... Innovative educational programs, presenting basic science in an integrative societal context, have already been initiated successfully in several countries and this deserves further support (e.g. Field et al., 2011Field et al., , 2013Jarvis et al., 2012;Hartemink et al., 2014). The SDG's are suggested as general goals to be pursued, which is the more important because 195 nations signed the UN-SDG protocol in New York in 2015, creating a legal obligation. ...
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... ∆ analysis of historical and cultural attitudes toward soil presents a way for the public and the soil science community to consider their own views on soil (Churchman and Landa, 2014). Such discussions and outreach interactions have great potential to inform novel approaches for soil education ( Field et al., 2013). To this end, we propose the creation of a centralized collection of outcomes and insights from the multitude of education outreach efforts (e.g., a SSSA-maintained website with guest blog posts), which are many but often isolated with little cross-talk, to better communicate, learn from, and build on the diversity of strategies in soil science outreach. ...
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Conference Paper
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Many studies convincingly document the importance of soils when dealing with the global environmental sustainability issues of today, such as food, water and energy security, climate change, ecosystem service delivery and biodiversity protection. Even though international agencies have supported the claims by the soil science community, recent strategic environmental reports hardly mention soils. Soils need to be “re-framed”, realizing that most issues are land-related. This includes introduction of the concept of “Soil Security”, including elements of safety, risk and anxiety, and the metaphor of soils as a possible “keystone” connecting the various environmental issues mentioned above. In addition, there is a need for active participation in interdisciplinary research programs, while particular opportunities can be found in transdisciplinary programs actively involving stakeholders and policy makers striving for connected value development. Soil scientists can be effective “knowledge brokers” (Extension 2.0, in which participatory joint learning replaces linear knowledge transfer in traditional extension). Current developments in the policy arena, with more focus on participatory rather than top-down approaches in environmental regulations also offer particular opportunities for soil science. Effective framing does not need more diagnostic studies nor alarming declarations or conceptual action plans, but should focus on the presentation of specific case studies demonstrating the l role of soils when confronting the major environmental issues of today. Benefit/cost analyses are essential to demonstrate that good soil management often represents good business. The “Green Water” study in Kenya is presented as an example of this approach.