Urban Extension: A Professional Development Offering

How University of Florida Regional Urban Sustainability addresses the multitude of issues and priorities in their community through educational programming:

Since 2014, the RSA has offered four (4) regional film series in partnership with multiple universities and colleges within the Tampa Bay region, reaching a total of 540 attendees. These university and college partners are listed below and the film screenings were held monthly over the course of the Fall semester.

• University of South Florida, Tampa (Patel College of Global Sustainability)

The University of Tampa

Petersburg College (Tarpon Springs)

• University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Each film series is unique in its educational message and the films are chosen by the RSA to meet mutual educational goals of the agent and partner institution. Film selection allows the RSA to not only highlight an important sustainability issue (climate change, food waste, land use) but to also showcase the expertise that Extension brings to bear on the subject matter. This leads to additional connections for urban residents who can now turn to Extension as another trusted resource. Each series includes regional and local experts and community partners identified by the RSA who can provide additional local expertise and community connections beyond the film series. The film approach allows urban residents to connect with Extension in the non-traditional classroom setting whereby Extension may be perceived as a consultant who coordinates the expertise of many other “actors”. The flexibility of utilizing film as the educational platform allows the RSA to customize the topics to suit the landscape (urban/rural) and the choice of local/regional experts to adequately address spillover concerns about the topic. This approach connects audiences with research and expertise without identifying singular experts; instead, it pluralizes the connections that exist between universities and communities and demonstrates the role that multiple partners can play to solve complex urban sustainability issues. This educational pathway deviates from the Extension norm but it allows clientele to connect with Extension without feeling overloaded with content, a strategy that is valuable in resource-rich communities to build trust and promote neutrality grounded in science and research.

How University of Florida Regional Urban Sustainability attracts, develops, retains, and structures competent talent:

The RSA position is a unique position created in 2005/2006 to address sustainability issues using a multi - disciplinary systems-level approach. The position is funded through an endowment which was created through the foresight of a local benefactor in collaboration with the University of Florida. This unique formula of a systems-focused position, collaborative funding, and regional label provides a degree of latitude to address emerging issues. At the time, prevailing land development patterns, increasing population densities,


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