Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

Figure 1 – Model for Civic Engagement

From: Radke, B. & Chazdon, S. (2015, Augus t). Making ResourceFull™ decisions: A process model for civic engagement. Journal of Extension. 53(4, 4ToT5). https://archives.joe.org/joe/2015august/tt5.php

Braun (2012), called for public issues education as a means of educating the public about health issues. She urged Extension to mobilize to address health issues across the nation. The article described a University of Maryland Extension statewide forum held at five locations with local facilitators. Each site was connected through Web technology to explore the components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010. The focus was on the impact of the ACA on rural Maryland and was part of a core health messaging project funded by a USDA Rural Health and Safety Grant. A post-pre-evaluation method determined that understanding of the law increased and held 6 months later. This community education forum was an early demonstration of the ability to conduct forums via online technology. Land-grant universities can call attention to issues, conduct research, create materials, and work with local communities to find solutions through their outreach and/or Extension capacity. Shaffer (2017) provides a historic perspective on Extension as “a catalyst for change through community engagement.” After an extensive review of Extension’s history of community engagement, Shafer wrote:

Its [Extension’s] past use of discussion groups highlights how Extension supported and catalyzed change in communities by fostering the ability of communities to create opportunities for citizens to understand and engage with public issues. (p. 5)

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