Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

Gupta et al. (2019) studied 11 projects conducted by Extension in California. They drew three conclusions. The first conclusion was:

Extension can achieve its greatest relevance in policy circles when it weaves together its ability to provide trustworthy technical knowledge with its capacity to influence policy dialogue, debate, and practice across multiple settings and over the long term. (p. 1) A second conclusion was that in a world where short-term thinking and polarization is common, Extension can foster a future-oriented approach to public issues and policy. Extension can help communities focus on the future by providing context-sensitive and deliberative engagement opportunities for the public over time. Their third conclusion was that Extension often undervalues the impact of the work it does and fails to make those impacts known. They suggested Extension do programming focused on public issues and then that Extension tell a convincing story of the value of that programming. Goerlich and Walker (2015) offered a model for Extension professionals who are thinking about becoming involved in public issues education. Their model, a decision tree, can help Extension professionals, individually and collectively, think about emerging issues and what they have to offer to help a community process public issues. The model is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - A Thought Process for Extension Faculty Considering Their Potential Role in Controversial Public Issues

From: Goerlich , D. & Walker, M.A. (2015, June). Determining Extension’s role in controversial issues: Content, process, either, or both? Journal of Extension. 53(3), 3FEA2. https://archives.joe.org/joe/2015june/a2.php or https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2242&context=joe

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