The Culture behind the Congress

The culture pillar of the WCSS22 was aimed to encourage scientists to see soil and included installations in the main exhibition space from a cultural perspective, and the public should be encouraged to understand soils’ importance, and was incorporated through local charity partnerships, workshops, art exhibitions, and inclusion installations in the main exhibition space.

Several cultural activities delivered during the congress to meet such objectives included representation from local artists and opportunities for delegates to interact with soil in an arts context. To engage the public, the Congress aimed to include local arts exhibitions, outreach activities and community projects, to extend the legacy of the Congress and increase its reach to a broader, non-scientific audience.


World Congress of Soil Science

Cultural and Outreach activities

Several volunteers, including Early Career members who had received a travel grant to attend the conference, delivered a week-long residency at the Glasgow Science Centre.

These volunteers engaged with over 7,000 people during the week of the Congress, highlighting the importance of soil via our ‘Soil Explorer’ activities developed by the outreach committee. This was by far the largest outreach event the Society has hosted during its 75 years and the feedback from the public was incredibly encouraging.

World Congress of Soil Science

Cultural Tours

Soil Culture Day Tour

The theme for the Congress was Crossing Boundaries, Changing Society and this tour aimed to explore the ways in which soils have influenced communities, informed traditional practice, and continue to shape and influence society today.

The tour began by visiting Dumfries House, home to The Prince’s Foundation, to learn more about the heritage and cultural aspects of the estate. There were opportunities to view student projects that explored traditional techniques including earth building, and also a chance to speak with the Trust’s organic farmer and estate manager.

Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA)

CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts is Glasgow’s hub for the arts. At the heart of all activities is the desire to work with artists, commission new projects and present them to the widest possible audience. During the Congress, they held an exhibition and educational programme, We are Compost – Composting the We. The exhibition featured a large-scale room installation of recycled soil materials,  a research installation of literature, audio-visual resources and objects, and an interactive installation in collaboration with CCA’s own Seed Library.

Dialogue Event

Soil scientists attending WCSS22 were also invited to a dialogue event to focus on soil futures-making, reflecting on our experiences of soil connection, and collectively imagining what societies built on soil connections may look like.

World Congress of Soil Science

Arts Programme

To aid in addressing the World Congress of Soil Science 2022 theme, Crossing Boundaries: Changing Society, the arts were not only highlighted in the scientific sessions, but also brought into the exhibition space and infused into the fringe events programme. From art galleries to podcasts, there was something for everyone to engage with. The arts are key to conveying the message of the importance of soils to a wide audience in an accessible way and the artists participating in the event represented a wide range of media.

World Congress of Soil Science

Why Glasgow

Glasgow is one of the world’s most exciting, friendly and culturally vibrant cities. Voted the ‘World’s Friendliest City’ in a 2014 Rough Guide poll, friendly Glaswegians are the thing everyone comments on. 

It has a phenomenally vibrant arts scene for a city of its size. Indeed, some say the city’s size – big enough to be a city, small enough to be a village – is what makes it so unique.

Glasgow’s amazing architecture, fantastic venues and world-class museums and galleries are the canvas for many artistic collaborations – whether it’s Celtic Connections, Glasgow International, or a Play, a Pie and a Pint!

Nightlife is a mix of fabulous cafés, bars, restaurants and cultural offerings. The city is home to Scotland’s national opera, ballet and theatre companies and is a UNESCO City of Music.

World Congress of Soil Science

Engaging with the public

The Congress included a range of activities such as keynote addresses, workshops, symposia, an indoor exhibition, tours and soil judging. Fringe events hosted alongside the WCSS aimed to engage the general public on the cultural importance of soil and included exhibitions, digital storytelling and collaborative works with the local community.

The wide-reaching scope of WCSS22 offered a unique opportunity for organisations and individuals to reach influencers and decision makers in the industry, cultivate opportunities, and promote public engagement with soil science.

Learn more about the other pillars of WCSS22