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Nourishing Connections and Digging Deep: Introducing Dr. Rodrigo Pérez García

As a part of our External Expertise interview series, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Rodrigo Pérez García. Rodrigo has developed a micro-module in our new Transition Year programme, the Future of Food, and a micro-module in our Transition Year Programme, Seeding Sustainability.

Future of Food is a comprehensive journey into the Future of Food designed to align with the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2): Zero Hunger, Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3): Good Health and Well-being (for people and planet); Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12): Responsible Consumption and Production; Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13): Climate Action. Over the course of this programme learners will delve into the intricate web of food production, sustainability, health, and innovation, while fostering empathy, collaboration, and forward-thinking.

Seeding Sustainability is a project-based learning module with a year-end event, the Ice Cream Olympics. It uses the local place to enable learners to gain knowledge and skills around local ecology, environmental factors and issues, project management and execution.

All of our programmes deliver cross-curricular UDL, are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UNESCO Earth Charter. They are learner-centred, project-based and are underpinned by place-based STEAM.

Rodrigo’s first micro-module is entitled Nourishing Connections for a Sustainable Future. This micro-module guides learners through a comprehensive exploration of the intricate connections between society and the food systems that sustain it. Throughout this micro-module, learners will learn about the multifaceted relationships between time, society, and food production. They then deepen their understanding of the complex web of the food production process and the diverse stakeholders involved beyond mere crop cultivation. As learners progress through the module, they delve into the role of agriculture in shaping human civilization and the influence of agricultural innovations on the course of food history. Then, the micro-module unpacks the distinctions between linear and circular food systems, emphasising material flows across various stages, from production to waste management. Finally, learners explore the intricate relationships within food chains and webs, gaining a tangible sense of the delicate balance required for ecosystem well-being.

His second micro-module is entitled Dig Out the Secrets of Soil in Seeding Sustainability. This micro-module introduces learners to soil-science and soil health. First, learners explore the connection between nutrition and healthy soil along with the soil’s connection with the ecosystem through water regulation, supporting plant and animal life, pollutant filtration, nutrient cycling, and structural support. Following this, the history of soil through the years is explored to then segway into current soil issues and threats. This micro-module culminates in four hands-on soil experiments to explore soil texture, soil composition, soil pH and soil chromatography.

We interviewed Rodrigo about his work, motivations, and involvement in developing his two micro-modules.

What made you want to work in the field you are in?

My journey into chemistry, nanoscience and materials science was fueled by my fascination with the intricate world of chemical particles (natural or not) and their profound impact on various aspects of our lives. The possibility of manipulating matter at the nanoscale, where the laws of classical physics blend with the rules of quantum mechanics, felt like exploring a realm of endless possibilities like Feyman expressed with his "there's plenty of room at the bottom". This field not only promises technological breakthroughs but also offers a window into the fundamental nature of matter itself. While I am deeply passionate about exploring the infinitesimal world of atoms and molecules, I am equally enthusiastic about fostering open-source, knowledge-sharing and sustainable farming practices due to the pressures our society undergoes.

Do you have an organisation or work with a particular organisation - if so, what is your / their mission statement?

I co-founded (together with Caterina Benincasa), two non-for-profit cultural organisations, (IT) and PolyhedraLabs (DE). Both foster cross-disciplinary research and activities in art, science and heritage with an outlook on sustainability and shared governance. We believe in the power of curiosity, play and encounters. And are incessantly fascinated by the manifold ways of being and discovering. The dialogue and confrontation that sparks from our curiosity-driven explorations crystallise primarily in the form of creative provocations, conferences, exhibitions and publications.

Additionally, I am closely associated with RPA Europe S.R.L., a consultancy that specialises in the economic analysis and socio-economic assessment of public policies and companies' strategies, in particular on environmental issues, and with Inova DE GmbH where I support different organisations to bring their innovations to the market. My work with Inova DE GmbH involves managing innovation processes and transforming novel concepts into tangible solutions that contribute to a sustainable future via public funding.

What do you offer?

This is a difficult question. I am motivated and have a passion for endeavours like this. I may say that I bring to the table a unique blend of expertise in nanomaterials and interfacial phenomena (what occurs where two different phases, such as a liquid and a solid, come together) as well as years of trial and error. My skills also extend to data analysis, socioeconomic assessments, and policy evaluation of science and tech advances. In collaboration with Future Focus21c, I'm crafting educational modules that I hope demystify intricate concepts of food and food systems for young learners.

What is your background/skill set and training?

I hold a PhD in Chemistry from TU-Berlin in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (International Graduate Research Training Group 1524) and postgraduate education in Sustainable Business Strategy from Harvard Business School. Throughout my life, I have gained significant international exposure through research residencies in various parts of the world and the implementation of various transnational projects. My training encompasses nanomaterials analysis, computational modelling, and (interdisciplinary) project management. This diverse skill set enables me to bridge the gap between scientific exploration and practical implementation.

Tell us about your work with Future Focus21c.

My collaboration with Future Focus21c aligns perfectly with my passion for open source, food systems and education. We're working together to create engaging modules that introduce people of 14-16 years to the food systems of the future, without missing connections with indigenous knowledge that past generations can provide. By breaking down complex concepts into accessible and participative lessons, we aim to inspire curiosity and critical thinking among students.

What are you most excited about in the new lessons/module you are developing?

I'm particularly excited about fostering a sense of wonder among students when they discover the role of circularity and soil-chemistry in their everyday lives. From the colours in their food to the composting approaches, science is a silent driving force that often goes unnoticed. Unveiling this and showing its potential to shape a sustainable future is an amazing driving force.

Why do you think sharing your knowledge with Transition Year learners is important?

Transition Year is a crucial phase where students are at a crossroad of uncertainties. By sharing my insights and life experiences, I hope not only to spark their interest in topics that fascinate me, but also to empower them to make informed choices in their next steps. Enabling them to comprehend a bit better the intricacies of cutting-edge technology is one more tool for them to envision a future where they play a pivotal role. I cannot thank the MCSS team enough for this opportunity.

The Future is Now.

It is time to prepare today's students for today’s world.

Please get in contact at if you are interested in using our resources with your learners.

Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM uses a transdisciplinary, STEAM-based pedagogical approach. Returning to SDG 4, Target 4.7, one of the core missions of the Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM programme is to ensure an arts / design and culture-led approach to learning that is transdisciplinary and transformative. Learning that supports the development of informed citizens, that are systemic, critical and creative thinkers who can apply their knowledge in agile ways that are sensitive, generative and appropriately responsive to context, in relevant and meaningful ways.

This is done through placed-based learning, which enables individuals to experience learning in local, real-life scenarios. Place-based approaches to learning grounded in local communities and contexts are relevant, engaging and inquiry-based. Students gain confidence and competence in affecting change, learning to manage risk, and develop creative, real-world solutions that are eco-socially just and restorative.

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