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Casting a Wider Net: Understanding the “Root” Causes of Human-Induced Soil Erosion

Author(s): Michele A. Whitecraft | Bruce E. Huggins Jr.

Journal: Agriculture (Basel)
ISSN 2077-0472

Volume: 3;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 613;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: soil erosion | episteme | techne | phronesis | practical wisdom | integrative education | transformative education | experiential education | soil health

Although science has helped us to identify and measure the threat of soil erosion to food production, we need to cast a wider net for effective solutions. Honest assessment suggests, in fact, that this kind of eco-agri-cultural issue exceeds the traditional boundaries of scientific interest. The issue of soil erosion spills out so many ways that it demands a holistic interdisciplinary approach. In this paper we explore a systems “in context” approach to understanding soil erosion built upon the interplay of Aristotle’s virtues of episteme, techne, and phronesis. We model the synergy of collaboration, where diverse ways of knowing, learning and being in the world can offer proactive soil conservation strategies—those that occur from the inside-out—instead of reactive policies, from the outside-in. We show how positivist scientific attitudes could well impede conservation efforts insofar as they can inhibit educational pedagogies meant to reconnect us to nature. In so doing, we make the ultimate argument that disparate fields of knowledge have much to offer each other and that the true synergy in solutions to soil erosion will come from the intimate interconnectedness of these different ways of knowing, learning and being in the world.
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