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Report, 2022

A roadmap towards action education - The Nextfood approach

Lieblein, Geir; Melin, Martin; Breland, Tor Arvid;


In an age of accelerating change, where society seeks to develop pathways towards a more sustainable future, there is increasing recognition of the need for an educational response. Future change agents must be equipped with the competences needed to deal with the complex challenges of sustainability. Education plays a key role in addressing the threats from climate change and in supporting a transition to more sustainable production and consumption of food and other bio-based products.

The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, launched by the United Nations in 2005, aimed “to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning to encourage changes in behaviour that allow for a more sustainable and just society for all” (UNESCO 2005). Through education for sustainable development, students must become better equipped to link societal and economic activities
to environmental issues and be better prepared for dealing with societal challenges.

In a recent declaration, the European Education Arena 2025, EU-leaders prioritised the need to build on inclusive and high-quality education as a part of the Green Deal Strategy (European Union 2020). An education characterised by transdisciplinary, learnercentered and action-oriented approaches is mentioned as an important means to foster transversal skills. These skills are not confined to a specific task within a
discipline or dependent on a narrow field of knowledge. Critical thinking, creativity, entrepreneurship and civic engagement are among the capabilities most needed in our rapidly evolving society and work life.

The NextFOOD consortium was established in 2018. Its members consist of university students, academics, field professionals, farmers and other stakeholders in society. The primary consortium activities are case studies of action-oriented education, sharing of experiences and research. In 2022, the NextFOOD roadmap (Fig. 1) towards a vision of action education was developed from reviewing the outcomes of 12 educational case studies and of several workshops organised by the consortium. The workshop
participants identified factors that have been critical for them to transform traditional educational approaches to more action-oriented learning. They discussed the challenges they have faced and the strategies they have applied to overcome them. Based on these discussions, we were able to identify which steps seemed critical for success. The purpose of the resulting roadmap is to support the transformation of educational systems in the agrifood, forestry and similar sectors towards the action-orientation that is needed to build sustainability competences among the students (learners). It is to be used by course leaders, educational managers and teaching practitioners at the high school, vocational and university levels who want to drive such a change in education

The roadmap depicts various signposts, each representing a step towards creating the foundation for educating the next generation of professionals in agri-food and similar systems. The roadmap was presented at the final consortium meeting of NextFOOD in April 2022 and the participants gave their feedback to the final version. As a user of the roadmap, you may likely experience detours and unexpected obstacles as you proceed with the change process. The roadmap is intended as a visual metaphor. It will help you to create ownership and spur creativity, if you adjust the sequence of the steps to your own situation.

The usefulness of the roadmap can be enhanced through accessing the NextFOOD Research Protocol (Lenaerts, L., et al. 2019), the NextFOOD Master Manual (Lenaerts, L., et al. 2022) and the NextFOOD Toolbox (Nicolaysen, A.M. et al. 2020). The manual and the toolbox provide different tools (“how-to instructions”) as well as theoretical inputs. The NextFOOD document on “Educational Approaches (Lieblein, G. et al. 2019) provide a further conceptual base for the NextFOOD approach to action education.

Published in

Publisher: NextFood

Authors' information

Lieblein, Geir
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of People and Society
Breland, Tor Arvid
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

UKÄ Subject classification

Pedagogical Work

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