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Cooperative extension can better frame its value by emphasizing policy relationships

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Gupta, Clare (main author), Campbell, David (author), Cole-Weiss, Alexandra (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
USA: University of California
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
agricultural policy, communication analysis, communication channels, dissemination of information, extension, extension research, information needs, interviews, public attitudes, scientific communication, knowledge transfer, trust, narratives
13 pages., Via online journal., Based on research-to-policy narratives provided by UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) academics, we argue that current, effective Cooperative Extension (Extension) practices support a broader, more convincing account of Extension's public value than its leaders often articulate. This proposed account incorporates the familiar Extension narrative in which technical expertise and objectivity are emphasized. It also incorporates the insight, derived from our data, that 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. In a policy world often marked by short-term thinking and polarization, Extension's ability to foster deliberative, context-sensitive and future-oriented policymaking is a critical contribution to society. Interview data reveals three approaches to effective policy-oriented relationship building: community-government partnership building; stakeholder-oriented experimental research; and community empowerment. Understanding these approaches can help reframe the story that we in the Extension system tell ourselves and the public about the public value we create.