Play, Learn, and Teach Outdoors—Network (PLaTO-Net): terminology, taxonomy, and ontology



A recent dialogue in the field of play, learn, and teach outdoors (referred to as “PLaTO” hereafter) demonstrated the need for developing harmonized and consensus-based terminology, taxonomy, and ontology for PLaTO. This is important as the field evolves and diversifies in its approaches, contents, and contexts over time and in different countries, cultures, and settings. Within this paper, we report the systematic and iterative processes undertaken to achieve this objective, which has built on the creation of the global PLaTO-Network (PLaTO-Net).


This project comprised of four major methodological phases. First, a systematic scoping review was conducted to identify common terms and definitions used pertaining to PLaTO. Second, based on the results of the scoping review, a draft set of key terms, taxonomy, and ontology were developed, and shared with PLaTO members, who provided feedback via four rounds of consultation. Third, PLaTO terminology, taxonomy, and ontology were then finalized based on the feedback received from 50 international PLaTO member participants who responded to ≥ 3 rounds of the consultation survey and dialogue. Finally, efforts to share and disseminate project outcomes were made through different online platforms.


This paper presents the final definitions and taxonomy of 31 PLaTO terms along with the PLaTO-Net ontology model. The model incorporates other relevant concepts in recognition that all the aspects of the model are interrelated and interconnected. The final terminology, taxonomy, and ontology are intended to be applicable to, and relevant for, all people encompassing various identities (e.g., age, gender, culture, ethnicity, ability).


This project contributes to advancing PLaTO-based research and facilitating intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration, with the long-term goal of fostering and strengthening PLaTO’s synergistic linkages with healthy living, environmental stewardship, climate action, and planetary health agendas. Notably, PLaTO terminology, taxonomy and ontology will continue to evolve, and PLaTO-Net is committed to advancing and periodically updating harmonized knowledge and understanding in the vast and interrelated areas of PLaTO.

Read article here.

Not Too Late – check out the webpage

#NotT00Late is a project to invite newcomers to the climate movement, as well as provide climate facts and encouragement for people who are already engaged but weary. We believe that the truths about the science, the justice-centered solutions, the growing strength of the climate movement and its achievements can help. They can assuage the sorrow and despair, and they can help people see why it’s worth doing the work the climate crisis demands of us.

Special issue on sustainability: Svenskämnets berättelser och berättelser i svenskämnet: ett temanummer om hållbarhet 

Detta är ForskULs andra temanummer, producerat tillsammans med två gästredaktörer.I Svenskämnets berättelser och berättelser i svenskämnet: ett temanummer om hållbarhet presenterar  Anna Lyngfelt och Katharina Dahlbäck fem artiklar som på olika sätt utgör exempel på det den brittiska professorn Kari Facer benämner ”närvarandets pedagogik”. Detta är en form av undervisning  där elever får fördjupa sin förståelse av samtidens företeelser och samtidigt ges tillfälle att öva sig i att se komplexiteten i det som sker, för att därigenom kunna utveckla tankar om potentiella framtidsvägar. Temanumret belyser på så sätt möjligheter att genom svenskämnet bidra till samhällets hållbarhetsarbete. Temanumret avslutas med en reflektion av just Kari Facer.

David Thurfjell: Granskogsfolk. Hur naturen blev svenskarans religion (2020)

Nature in general, and the woods in particular, are essential to Swedish society and culture. In fact, trees and forests are so crucial to the modern, primarily secular Swedes and their self-image that this type of natural landscape could be regarded as a national religion in contemporary Sweden. This is the central thesis presented by David Thurfjell (professor in religious studies) in Granskogsfolk. Hur naturen blev svenskarans religion (“People of the spruce woods. How nature became a religion to the Swedes”)

Thurfjell asks why rural landscapes such as the pine woods appear to be the sphere most Swedes choose when seeking places for existential reflection, what these spiritual experiences are like, and how this orientation toward the rural parts of society has become so widespread among the modern Swedes.

To answer these questions, Thurfjell turns to two types of sources. To find out how the Swedes of today think of and experience nature, he has interviewed 72 of the hikers he has met while strolling in the forests surrounding Stockholm. These contemporary reflections are contextualized through a comprehensive cultural-historical analysis. Based on a variety of historical, religious, philosophical, and psychological studies, as well as examples from the Swedish literary canon, Thurfjell presents the Swedes’ relationship with nature throughout history. This journey begins in the mythical landscapes of Norse society, pass through the conflicting ideas of the holy as something beyond, but also within, the material world during the Christian era, continues to the secular instrumentalization of nature in the industrial period, and ends up in the existential paradoxes of the Anthropocene. Even though much of this narrative is familiar, at least to readers interested in images and stories about Scandinavian nature, Thurfjell’s spiritual history of Sweden demonstrates the critical insight that nature is indeed a crucial part of what we conceive of as culture.

From the perspective of literary studies, it is interesting to note that the many quotes from well-known Swedish poems, novels, and songs included in Thurfjell’s argument reflect a remarkably richer and more nuanced way of expressing the profound and significant experience of connection between human beings and their natural surroundings, compared to the urban “new age”- discourse influencing many of his informants. The poem from which Thurfjell has borrowed the title, Granskogsfolk, is a telling example of how precise, but uncomplicated all the same, literary language can be:

Vi uppsöker gläntornas ljus

och bor till en del i städer

där vi får för oss

att vi är oss själva.

Ändå är vi vad vi är

Ett granskogsfolk

(From Tuvor (1973) by Harry Martinsson)

However, those (of us) who hoped the title Granskogsfolk referred to a religious history connected to trees or spruces particularly will be disappointed due to the general scope of Thurfjell’s examination. As Thurfjell admits himself, the words “nature,” “landscape,” “forest,” and “spruce woods” are used synonymously. Nevertheless, there are some passages where connections to trees as such, and even certain species, are given particular attention.

Oe such example is a section on “Kärleken till träd” (The love of trees), where the author discusses a tendency among his informants to establish friendly relations with trees. Several of them report conversations with trees, and one expresses that she looks upon trees as persons “with a real personality” (p. 43). Thurfjell enriches these testimonies with parallel examples in texts by canonized Swedish authors such as Artur Lundkvist and Sara Lidman.

A section on the powerful Swedish timber industry reveals a far more problematic perspective on trees. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, vast parts of the Swedish woods were treated with the same pesticides used as chemical weapons in the Vietnam War. The long list of “unwanted” plants mentioned in the marketing campaign for these products (including common species such as birch, hazel, and willow) effectively explains why monoculture is one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in Scandinavian forests today. 

Thus, even though Granskogsfolk does not contribute much new knowledge, neither about the spiritual history of Swedes or their relation to spruce, it is a well-written reminder that the natural landscapes we walk through, read about, and dream of are central to what it means to be a human being.

04.05.2022 by Beatrice G. Reed, Post doc. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

New PhD-thesis – by Ahmed Khateeb

This dissertation examines constructions of nature and childhood in a selection of contemporary Norwegian books for children and young adults. The selected titles are Stian Hole’s picturebook trilogy about Garmann (2006; 2008; 2010), the illustrated novel Tonje Glimmerdal (2009) by Maria Parr, and the novel Fredlaus (2006) by Ragnar Hovland. By engaging with ecocritical theory, philosophical texts on nature and formation by Rousseau and Thoreau, and Klafki’s theory of categorical Bildung, the main aim of the dissertation is to explore how the character’s experiences of and reflections on the landscapes they live in have formative qualities.

I have mainly dealt with the part of ecocriticism that discusses literary constructions of landscapes. Throughout the readings, I show that the selected texts reproduce culturally established ideas about pastoral and wild nature, and I argue that these ideas shape the characters’ interpretation and understanding of the landscapes.

As part of the analysis, I map the texts’ constructions of landscape and childhood against the “Nature-in-culture” matrix as developed in the research group “Nature in children’s literature and culture” at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. This matrix is an analytical tool that I use to discuss how the characters’ natural surroundings may be read as ecocritically formative landscapes where the relationship between nature and culture is celebrated, explored or problematized. Although I show that the texts reproduce anthropocentric and celebratory understandings of nature, I highlight that the characters problematize uncritical celebrations of nature, both in themselves and in other characters. This makes them examples of critical and self-reflexive characters who alternate between different ways of understanding themselves and their engagement with nature, while also assessing how other characters position themselves in the landscapes.

I find that the characters are constructed in dialogue with literary childhood figures from a romantic nature-celebrating tradition, while also arguing that it is possible to read the characters in dialogue with Anthropocene thinking by underscoring their problematizing reflections on human kind as a destabilizing ecological force found in the texts. These are formative reflections that lead the characters to the insight that their connections to the landscapes are not only idyllic and something to be celebrated but is also a complex relationship that involves responsibilities.

The dissertation is a contribution to the in-depth theoretical and analytical understanding of constructions of nature and childhood in children’s literature. It demonstrates that the primary texts examined reproduce established ideas about the relationship between nature and childhood, while also presenting new insights into the ways in which such thinking is explored and developed in new literary texts for children and young adults.

Climate Panel on Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

“Agency, Kinship, and Stories of Plants”

Join us for a conversation on the representation of plants in children’s and young adult hosted by Melanie Duckworth and Lykke Guanio-Uluru, co-editors of Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Panelists will include Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Anja Höing, Mónika Rusvai, and Terri Doughty. They will discuss critical plant theory, kinship, and the agency of plants in relation to a broad range of children’s and young adult literature from Sweden, the US; Australia and the UK: from Elsa Beskow’s plant people to the terrifying Wood in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted; from violent vegetables in Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 52-Storey Treehouse to arboreal poetry written by children.

Climate change, deforestation, mass plantations, pesticides and genetic engineering are affecting both plants and the complex ecosystems to which they – and we – belong. One way to begin addressing these issues is to start thinking of plants as more than just objects. Do plants think? We know that they sense – but do they feel? What characterizes plant knowledge? Should we think of them as people? Even if we do not – do plants have rights?

These are questions being asked in the emerging field of critical plant studies. Here, we explore such questions in relation to the rich and varied worlds of children’s literature, which offer unique opportunities to imagine and encounter the life of plants.

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments. The event will be recorded.

Event Information:

  • Format: Live Zoom webinar
  • Time: 09.00-10.00 CT
  • Date: March 11, 2022
  • Registration required
  • Webinar link will be emailed after registration


Lykke Guanio-Uluru is Professor of Literature at Western Norway University and researches literature and ethics, particularly plant studies, ecocriticism, fantasy, and game studies. She is the author of Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature (2015), co-editor of Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (2018) and the author of multiple articles, the most recent of which is “Analysing Plant Representation in Children’s Literature: The Phyto‑Analysis Map

Melanie Duckworth is Associate Professor of English Literature at Østfold University College, Norway, where she teaches English, postcolonial, and children’s literature. Her research interests include Australian literature, plant studies, children’s literature, and ecocriticism, and she has published on Australian historical children’s fiction, Australian literature, ecofeminism, and contemporary poetry.