About Arjen Wals

I am a Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University in The Netherlands where I also hold the UNESCO Chair of Social Learning and Sustainable Development.  In addition, I am a visiting professor at the Norwegian Life Sciences University and the University of Western Norway. In the past I also was a guest professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden where I was awarded an Honorary Docterate degree in 2020. My teaching and research focus on designing learning processes and learning spaces that enable people to contribute meaningfully sustainability. A central question in my 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 addition I investigate, along with several PhD’s and colleagues in bothe The Netherlands and Norway the potential of Whole School/Institution Approaches to Sustainability as a way to systemically and meaningfully engage school communities in the grand challenges of our time.

In 2014 I was part of a team that wrote an article published in Science on the role of citizen science in bridging science education, environmental education and sustainability. Over the years I have been  an 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), and of Routledge’s International Handbook on Environmental Education Research (2013). I have have (co)authored over many publications of which the majority appeared in international peer reviewed journals. I have also contributed as a senior policy advisor to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitor 2016 Report ‘Education for People and Planet’ on the role of education in helping realize the UN’s Sustainable development Goals, and more recently to the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 5), the UNESCO Bonn Declaration on ESD, and the Stockholm Plus 50 Report (chapter on Environmental Education together with Daniela Tilbury and Thomas Macintyre).

At Wageningen University I (co)teach a number of courses, the main one being, Environmental Education and Learning for Sustainability. I have worked with many PhD and MSc students in a variety of countries (for an overview of PhD-candidates I have worked with see the main menu).

A short introduction to my key area of concern and interest can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqB4ryiS4cY

Updates list of publications via Google Scholar here: Publications Arjen Wals)

10 thoughts on “About Arjen Wals

  1. Dear Arjan,
    when you refer to new way of learning by taking full advantage of … ”diveristy”, do you mean human diversity, ecological diversity perspectives or both? I will be happy to read more on combination of the two.

  2. Dear Professor Wals, I have just stumbled upon your very informative blog. Do you have a rss feed to your blog? I could not find it.
    Many thanks,
    Ala Lesuma-Fatiaki
    University of the South Pacific
    Fiji Islands

    • Thanks! No, I have not figured out Rss feeds – how does that work? I am looking forward to my visit to Fiji between March 8th and 13th to work on sustainable food security with USP and to give a public talk on The role of learning and capacity building in moving towards a more sustainable world!

      • I am not familiar with wordpress – I use blogger but I assumed it would work the same as blogger. A rss feed widget that you would add onto your blog. I came across this for wordpress: http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/rss-links-widget/ which provides instructions on this. Looking forward to your presentation – just received the circular on email.
        Cheers, Ala.

  3. I came to your public lecture on last monday at USP and I agree with every word that you said.But the problem is where do we go from here. We are so addicted to unwanted and unnecessary things that we no longer can throw them away. After your lecture I did start to do away of some of them ! But this cannot be done on mass scale and the ads and the media are much more powerful than your logical and ressoned lecture ! Withere sustainable learning

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  5. Hello Professor Wals this Isaac from Uganda Africa am just thanking you the work are doing towards sustainable development; could have any technical know how such of programs could be for Africa benefit

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  7. Hi
    I was at the WEEC2015 conference and was impressed by your urging us to be disruptive!..thank you..My workshop was on the work I did with children and teachers “collaborating” and learning together, plotting a path for a more sustainable future, “thinking outside the box”. I will send you a copy of the workbook we used during our “future warriors – conference on sustainability” for 10 – 14 year-old children and their teachers. See the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1HyP2BVVFI
    Selwyn from South Africa

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