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SOIL An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2017-15
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Forum article
13 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).
How Alexander von Humboldt's life story can inspire innovative soil research in developing countries
Johan Bouma Em.prof soil science, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Abstract. The pioneering vision of Alexander von Humboldt on science and society of the early 1800's is still highly relevant today. His open mind and urge to make many measurements characterizing the: interconnected web of life are crucial ingredients as we now face the worldwide challenge of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Case studies in the Phillippines, Vietnam, Kenya, Niger and Costa Rica demonstrate, in Alexander's spirit, interaction with stakeholders and attention for unique local conditions applying modern measurement and modeling methods, allowing inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches. But relations between science and society are increasingly problematic, partly as a result of the information revolution and post-truth, fact-free thinking. Overly regulated and financially restricted scientific communities in so-called developed countries may stifle intellectual creativity. Researchers in developing countries are urged to leapfrog beyond these problems in the spirit of Alexander von Humboldt as they further develop their scientific communities. Six suggestions to the science community are made with particular attention for soil science.

Citation: Bouma, J.: How Alexander von Humboldt's life story can inspire innovative soil research in developing countries, SOIL Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2017-15, in review, 2017.
Johan Bouma
Johan Bouma
Johan Bouma

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Short summary
Alexander von Humboldt was an inspiring scientist in the early 1800's, traveling widely, making many measurements and linking different scientific disciplines with an open eye for the needs of society. This is particularly relevant today in our information society and researchers in developing countries are advised to follow the von Humboldt example when planning their future research.
Alexander von Humboldt was an inspiring scientist in the early 1800's, traveling widely, making...
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