Learning in, with, and through the territory: Territory-based learning as a catalyst for urban sustainability

Daniele T.P. Souza*, Eugenia A. Kuhn, Arjen E.J. Wals, Pedro R. Jacobi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Territorial problems such as the socio-ecological degradation of urban rivers represent a great challenge to achieving sustainability in cities. This issue demands collaborative efforts and the crossing of boundaries determined by actors that act from diverse spheres of knowledge and systems of practice. Based on an integrative territory notion and the boundary approach, the goal of this paper is to comprehend the boundary crossings that take place in multi-actor initiatives towards the resolution of this problem and what type of territorial transformation is produced as an outcome. Our analysis is built on participatory research on the Taquara Stream case, a degraded watercourse in a socio-ecologically vulnerable area, in southern Brazil. Our data analysis applied a visual chronological narrative and an interdisciplinary theoretical framework of analysis that combined concepts related to the territory (geography) and the boundary approach (education). We verified that local territorial issues functioned as boundary objects, fostering and facilitating dialogical interaction among involved actors, knowledge co-production, and collaborative practical actions that led to changes in the territory in terms of practices, comprehensions, and physical concrete transformations. We framed this study as one of territory-based learning meant to advance the understanding of territorial intervention processes towards urban sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3000
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Boundary crossing
  • Boundary objects
  • Brokers
  • Knowledge co-production
  • Social learning
  • Territory
  • Urban sustainability
  • Vulnerable communities

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