Professor Sabine Grunwald co-edits new book that offers appreciation of soil across cultures

Sabine Grunwald, Professor of Pedometrics, Landscape Analysis, and GIS, in the UF/IFAS Department of Soil, Water, and Ecosystem Sciences, says soil has been taken for granted globally. She hopes Cultural Understanding of Soils: The Importance of Cultural Diversity and of the Inner World, a new book published by Springer Nature, promotes intercultural literacy. The editors’ main objectives are to give readers the opportunity to appreciate soil and connect people to soil, nature, and Earth. 

Image of book cover for Cultural Understanding of Soils“Our book takes a global view of historic and cultural context that has shaped how soil is viewed, valued, cared for, or degraded,” Grunwald explains. She also contributed as an author and co-authored six chapters of the book. 

The basis for the book is the idea that humans see soil through a cultural lens. Different cultures have different ways of understanding and relating to soil. That viewpoint can affect how they use and care for it. Soil is not just a physical thing, but also a source of meaning and value for people.  

“Sometimes, these meanings and values can clash with scientific knowledge or environmental conditions, leading to soil degradation or conservation,” Grunwald says. “Therefore, it is important to learn from and communicate with different cultures about soil, and to raise awareness and respect for this vital resource.” 

The book is the result of a working group on Cultural Patterns of Soil Understanding, created by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS). It contains studies from almost all continents, written by soil scientists and other experts, that explore the human and intangible aspects of soil. 

Cultural Understanding of Soils: The importance of cultural diversity and of the inner world is available from Springer Nature online here:


Posted: October 19, 2023

Category: Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Research
Tags: Sabine Grunwald, Soil, Soil And Water Sciences, Soil Water And Ecosystem Sciences

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