Wheelbarrows full of frogs: social learning in rural resource management : international research and reflections

C. Leeuwis, R. Pyburn, N.G. Röling

    Research output: Book/ReportBook editingAcademic


    Standing in contrast to technological interventions and economics, ‘social learning’ reflects the idea that the shared learning of interdependent stakeholders is a key mechanism for arriving at more desirable solutions to complex problems in rural environments. Degradation of natural resources, vulnerability of agricultural systems, fragile institutions and rural poverty are but some of the interconnected challenges to which new answers must be found. Recognising that such predicaments are anthropogenic, social learning is a ‘third way of getting things done’ based on interactive problem solving, conflict resolution, shared learning, convergence of goals, concerted action and the like. The idea of social learning has become a ‘praxiology’: a theory that informs (intervention) practice. In characterising the process of social learning, Professor Niels Röling has frequently drawn upon the Dutch metaphor ‘wheelbarrows full of frogs’. The balancing act of keeping all frogs (multiple stakeholders) inside a wheelbarrow (a platform for social learning), while manoeuvring across potentially difficult terrain (rural resource management dilemmas), is a challenge demanding engagement, presence of mind, flexibility and stability (from facilitators, negotiators, evaluators, etc.). A fitting title of a book with contributions from leaders in the field, offering different perspectives and challenges for future research and practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAssen
    PublisherKoninklijke Van Gorcum
    Number of pages479
    ISBN (Print)9789023238508
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • resource management
    • natural resources
    • learning
    • participation
    • rural areas
    • developing countries

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