Extension Reconsidered Deliberative Forum held on Cornell Campus 6/25/14

On June 25th we held our first deliberative forum, here on campus. This first forum was a ‘beta test’ in many ways, allowing us to test our issues guide and the forum process. The continually surprising result (and this happens whenever we gather people together under the extension reconsidered umbrella) is that people are passionate, creative and concerned about the cooperative extension system.

A few key highlights from the discussion:

  • Need to be clear on what CCE’s competitive advantage is
  • CCE has a responsibility to push the cutting edge
  • CCE might be more intentional about handing off initiatives (start new programs with the intent of spinning them off)
  • CCE’s role is to focus on emerging and new issues (once no longer an emerging issue abandon or hand off)
  • Need to mix and blend ongoing and new programs
  • CCE is involved in all 3 views but might be more intentional in exploring trade-offs
  • Other entities have outreach; we can offer high quality educational programs for the public; emerging issues backed by sound science
  • Maintain two way exchange with communities; dialog with communities
  • Extension educators have a unique role; sometimes a mediating role (historically the role has not changed that much); trusted intermediaries; ability to synthesize info
  • Indications that regional ag programming has been successful; educators more highly trained; easier for faculty to build relationships with the specialists
  • We need a mix of regional specialists and educators working at the community level.
  • Can CCE shift from being competitive to collaborative?
  • Site and context matters – local interpretation important
  • CCE – providing clean science communication environments
  • CCE needs educators who can deal with polarization and who can navigate complex and controversial issues
  • Time to offer Public Issues Education again
  • There can be risks to reaching out to new audiences; community engagement can put you at risk; expectations can be high
  • Community development knowledge needed
  • We want educators who enjoy their positions; have to recognize their stress and help them set limits
  • Having an impact is important; content with some community development skills can lead to impact and success
  • CCE can support education, democracy and a civil society

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