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Living Soil and Sustainability Education: Linking Pedagogy and Pedology
Journal of Sustainability Education
  • Dilafruz R. Williams, Portland State University
  • Jonathan D. Brown, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Environmental education,
  • Sustainability -- Study and teaching,
  • Biodiversity,
  • School gardens
Sustainability is now permeating educational institutions. Yet the emerging discourse on sustainability education is in many ways caught in a modern web of theoretical, ontological, and epistemological assumptions that are incongruent with sustainability. We introduce an ecologically grounded metaphoric language rooted in living soil as an alternative regenerative framework for linking sustainability pedagogy with pedology (the study of soil). Five principles that guide this relationship are presented: valuing biocultural diversity, sensitizing our senses, recognizing place, cultivating interconnection, and embracing practical experience. Nurtured within an environment of curiosity, wonder, and questioning, and set to the rhythm and scale of localized ecologies, soil serves as an embodiment of life right beneath our feet rather than the reach of distant stars. In learning gardens, living soil and pedagogy surface in dynamic ways to create an ecological landscape of sustainability education.

Originally appeared in the Journal of Sustainability Education, volume 2, March 2011, and can be found at

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Citation Information
Williams, Dilafruz R., and Jonathan D. Brown. "Living soil and sustainability education: Linking pedagogy and pedology." Journal of Sustainability Education 2 (2011): 1-18.