Foster soil education across society






May 12 2022


Sep 27 2022



This topic contributes to the implementation of the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’[1], in particular to its specific objective 8 “Increase soil literacy in society across Member States”. It supports the objectives of the European Green Deal, the European Climate Pact[2] and the EU Soil Strategy for 2030[3]. In addition, results obtained under this topic should contribute to the objectives of the European Education Area[4], the Education for Climate Coalition[5] and improve the European sustainability competence framework (GreenComp) to prepare people to face the challenges of a changing climate world.

Project results should contribute to all of the following outcomes:

  • teaching programmes and targeted communication, education and engagement materials on soil are more widely available in numerous European languages;
  • higher uptake and diffusion of good practices and hands-on activities related to soil education across the EU and Associated Countries;
  • soil literacy is more firmly embedded in educational curricula at all levels and supports behavioural change and the adoption of sustainable practices both individually and collectively based on a better understanding of the vital importance of soils for human life and planetary health;
  • increased awareness of the importance of soil and its functions, as well as of the Mission objectives, amongst pupils, students and professionals across Europe.

As highlighted in the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 and in the implementation plan of Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’, soil is a scarce and non-renewable resource which is vital to ensure life on Earth. However, the value of soil is not fully recognised in society. Individuals are often unaware of the relevance of soil in their daily lives and of the pressures that human activities pose on soil health. To improve society’s understanding of soils and incentivise behavioural change, there is a need to embed soil related subjects more firmly into the various levels of education and link enhanced information on soils with people’s values. Activities under this topic will foster soil education in schools, universities and professional education in EU Member States and Associated Countries.

Projects are expected to:

  • Provide an overview of the current level of soil related knowledge (including on soils’ vital functions) and the educational needs amongst pupils (primary and secondary levels), students (tertiary level), and society overall across the EU and Associated Countries.
  • Develop courses/modules for soil education in primary and secondary schools as well as in universities (building particularly on EJP Soil[6] relevant results) and in professional/technical training by developing and testing pedagogical techniques for effective knowledge flows. Work should make use a variety of learning tools (including e-learning content[7]) and carry-out activities targeted at different age groups and types of learning.
  • Identify, further develop, and demonstrate/pilot exemplary sustainable practices on soil related educational settings (e.g. vegetable gardens, composting activities, etc.), in rural, peri-urban and urban areas. Examples identified should be geographically balanced and draw on experiences from a wide number of EU Member States and Associated Countries, ideally targeting at least half the number of EU Member States.
  • Disseminate and make widely available educational and training material gathered and developed throughout the project. Information and material shall be oriented to different target groups and available in numerous European languages, making use of advanced tools, channels and network for education and communication (e.g. School Education Gateway, EU Academy, Education for Climate platform). In addition, communication campaigns should be implemented to give visibility to the project, the Mission objectives and the importance of soil and its manifold functions.
  • Enhance knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer learning amongst the different target groups (e.g. school pupils and university students including beneficiaries of relevant Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions[8], teachers, professors, trainers, and organisations) through existing networks (e.g. EIT graduates[9]) and empower them to act on fostering strong links with the Education for Climate Coalition to co-create concrete education solutions;
  • Engage with public authorities and institutions responsible for primary, secondary and tertiary education on the findings resulting from the work undertaken in view of promoting their uptake. This should include the preparation of targeted recommendations for policy makers and the organisation of events such as a conference at EU level and a series of national conferences to exchange on the results.

Proposals should apply a multi-actor approach where soil experts, behavioural scientists, specialists in pedagogy, in education, and in communication are working closely together with teachers, professors and students in synergy with the Education for Climate Coalition and relevant initiatives of National Coalitions. In addition, consortia should tap into the expertise of organisations and institutions with experience in citizen science and in running science shops.

Potentially, the project financed under this topic could also cooperate with Living Labs and lighthouses that will be created in future calls under the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’.

Proposals should demonstrate a route towards open access, longevity, sustainability and interoperability of knowledge and outputs through close collaboration with the European Soil Observatory (EUSO)[10] and other projects to be funded under the mission, in particular under the topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-01-01[11]. The proposals shall include dedicated tasks and appropriate resources for this coordination.

Activities under this topic should be in line with the Council recommendation on education for environmental sustainability (EES), and should contribute to the European community of practice on EES, Education for Climate Coalition[12].

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Artificial Intelligence
Social Innovation
Societal Engagement
Social sciences and humanities
Digital Agenda

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe/missions-horizon-europe/soil-health-and-food_en

[2] European Climate Pact: https://europa.eu/climate-pact/index_en

[3] EU Soil Strategy https://ec.europa.eu/environment/publications/eu-soil-strategy-2030_en

[4] European Education Areas: https://ec.europa.eu/education/education-in-the-eu/european-education-area_en

[5] Education for Climate: https://education-for-climate.ec.europa.eu/_en

[6] EJP Soil: https://ejpsoil.eu/

[7] The online course developed by the Joint Research Centre on soil biodiversity is a good example of such a content targeting teachers and pupils which aims at raising awareness and increasing knowledge about soil: https://academy.europa.eu/courses/soil-a-burst-of-life-the-hidden-world-beneath-our-feet

[8] Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions: https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/

[9] EIT alumni: https://eitalumni.eu/

[10] EU Soil Observatory, https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/eu-soil-observatory

[11] Preparing the ground for healthy soils: building capacities for engagement, outreach and knowledge,Topic ID: HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-01-01

[12] Education for Climate Coalition is a flagship project of the Education Area. It is the European participatory community for teachers, students and education stakeholders to act collectively on innovative education solutions for environmental sustainability: https://education-for-climate.ec.europa.eu/community/home