CURIOSOIL (Awakening Soil Curiosity to Catalyse Soil Literacy)

Research programme:  HORIZON-MISS-2022-SOIL


Project ID: HORIZON-MISS-2022-SOIL-01-07; Project ID: 101112875

Co-ordinator (Lead Partner)

  1. UAveiro – University of Aveiro, Portugal;

 Partner institutions

  1. GEDU – Gaia Education, Belgium; 
  2. REVOLVE – Agency REVOLVE Mediterraneo, Spain; 
  3. WU – Wageningen University, Netherlands; 
  4. FVO – Fakulteta za varstvo okolja, Slovenia; 
  5. UNIPA – University of Palermo, Italy; 
  6. ECOLISE – European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, Belgium; 
  7. ESCI – European Science Communication Institute, Germany; 
  8. ESHA – European School Head Association, Netherlands;
  9. ISRIC – Stichting International Soil Reference and Information Centre, Netherlands; 
  10. BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria; 
  11. NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Norway; 
  12. IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Switzerland; 
  13. ZHdK; ICST – Zurich University of the Arts, Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology, Switzerland.

Project funders: The project is funded under the EU mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”, Horizon Europe. The mission aims to protect and restore soils, promote sustainable management practices in urban and rural environments, and lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.

  • European Commission (Horizon Europe funding programme) 
  • Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)

Duration of project: 48 months (1. 2. 2024 – 31. 1. 2028)

Project leader and implementation in Slovenia:
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Borut Vrščaj and Katja Črnec, M.Sc. in Ecology and Biosciences, with colleagues

Project description:

CURIOSOIL (Awakening Soil Curiosity to catalyse Soil Literacy)

is a four-year project co-funded by the EU under the Horizon Europe programme. The project is led and coordinated by the University of Aveiro (UAveiro), Portugal, and The Faculty of Environmental Protection (FVO) is one of the 14 partner institutions involved in the implementation.

In general, soil is a little-studied natural resource that although it makes life on the land possible. Soil science is too little known and insufficiently studied, and knowledge about soil itself is generally underrepresented and scarce. At the same time, the demands and negative impacts of humans and climate change on soils are increasing. Soil degradation is a serious problem, both for the food security of a growing population and for the mitigation of climate change. Humans and the environment need healthy soils that are able to provide ecosystem services to the maximum extent possible.

The project addresses the urgent need for a better understanding of the importance and role of soils through education. The CURIOSOIL project aims to raise interest and improve general knowledge and understanding of the properties and role of soils in the environment; to increase curiosity and knowledge about soils; to improve the means, ways and tools for communicating knowledge (teaching) about soils at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, as well as to decision-makers, professionals from other disciplines and the general public. The CURIOSOIL project aims to create a better connection between people and soil and give soil and soil science the place it deserves in relation to its role in the environment.

As part of the project, the project partners will develop educational resources, including a “Soil Curiosity Kit”, which allows a multi-sensory experience of soil, and various educational tools, as well as awareness-raising activities, workshops and training for teachers. Content, methods and tools will be developed in collaboration with teachers and other stakeholders. The resources will be made available for voluntary use within and outside the curriculum.

The project will also influence a better involvement of students, pupils and citizens in the EU mission “A Soil Deal for Europe” as well as in other EU, national and international initiatives to promote soil health. The project also aims to integrate soil science into the curriculum by 2030 and contribute to better public education and awareness of the value of soils and the importance of their sustainable management for a climate-just future.

Project objectives:

The main objectives are:

  • To draw up an inventory of soil knowledge and soil education needs in primary, secondary and tertiary education in EU Member States and propose a methodology to monitor progress.
  • Develop courses, guidelines, curriculum standards and training to integrate soil education at all formal and non-formal education levels in different EU Member States (in co-operation with the education community).
  • Researching and delivering multi-sensory, interactive soil experiences that combine virtual and physical resources and organising exhibitions and activities that combine educational and artistic elements.
  • Delivering customised messages to target audiences and promoting peer-to-peer communication and other means of knowledge exchange through activities aimed at testing and co-developing the project results and establishing links with existing networks such as the Education for Climate Coalition and the European Education Area.
  • Providing methodologies and specific recommendations for primary and secondary schools and university education institutions on how to include specific knowledge on soil health and sustainable soil management in educational programmes and curricula,
  • Identification and mapping of existing soil education initiatives.
  • Establishing a network of EU learning communities in rural, peri-urban and urban areas in 15 European countries to promote soil awareness in different languages and cultural and geographical contexts; and last but not least.
  • Linking with scientific and technical initiatives and workshops at national level to promote respect for healthy soils as a value, create and increase knowledge and competences for improved and sustainable land use.
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