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Arjen Wals

Arjen Wals

Arjen Wals is Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University in The Netherlands, one of the leading international universities in environmental and life sciences. He also holds the UNESCO Chair of Social Learning for Sustainable Development. His teaching and research focus on designing learning processes and learning spaces that enable people to contribute meaningfully sustainability. A central question in his work is: how to create conditions that support (new) forms of learning which take full advantage of the diversity, creativity and resourcefulness that is all around us, but so far remain largely untapped in our search for a world that is more sustainable than the one currently in prospect?

In 2014 he was the lead author of an article published in Science on the role of citizen science in bridging science education, environmental education and sustainability. He is editor and co-editor of a number of popular books including: ‘Higher Education and the Challenge of Sustainability’ (Kluwer Academic, 2004), ‘Creating Sustainable Environments in our Schools’ (Trentham, 2006), ‘Social Learning towards a Sustainable World’ (Wageningen Academic, 2007), ‘Learning for Sustainability in Times of Accelerating Change’ (2012), Routledge’s International Handbook on Environmental Education Research (2013) and Envisioning Futures for Environmental and Sustainability Education (Wageningen Academic, 2017). Recently he contributed as a senior policy advisor to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitor Report ‘Education for People and Planet’ on the role of education in helping realize the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

His current research focusses on:

  1. T-learning in times of climate change, which is part of one of the three Transformative Knowledge Networks funded by the ISSC
  2. The development of whole school approaches to sustainability, funded by the Dutch Science Foundation
  3. The design of Living Labs as learning ecologies facilitating transitions towards sustainability at the interface between science and society.

Arjen maintains a popular blog at A short video on his ambitions for sustainability in education can be viewed here.

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