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A common and important role that agricultural scientists and agri-business service providers play is within agricultural research projects or initiatives of agricultural industries and government targeting changes in practice or adoption amongst the farming population or in particular rural communities/catchments. This subject will provide students with the theory and practice of agricultural extension. Agricultural extension encompasses the practices involved in designing, delivering and evaluating interventions that facilitate desired change within a target population related to improved economic, environmental or social outcomes.
The subject covers the four main aspects of contemporary agricultural extension considerations: the history and philosophy of extension and extension policy in a global context; social theories of change; design principles for agricultural extension within an agricultural knowledge and innovation system; delivery strategies, methods and tools; evaluation of interventions and ethical dimensions of extension practice.
To achieve competency and professionalism in each of these aspects, extension practitioners must understand both the practical dimensions of designing and delivering change projects as well as the development of theories of action that underpin the design and allow for critical testing and evaluation of strategies. This includes understanding of target populations for particular agricultural change topics and the processes involved in change; the description and analysis of knowledge networks and communities of practice; how to construct learning and collaboration processes; processes of multi-stakeholder engagement and management, collaboration dynamics, and the political perspectives on change visions.
Topics covered in the subject include:
- History and philosophy of agricultural extension policy and practice in Australia and overseas
- Key concepts and approaches in contemporary agricultural extension
- Social theories of change, the role of theories of action
- Agricultural extension design principles: change outcomes, change stakeholders; change audiences, change processes
- Agricultural extension delivery strategies, methods and tools: top-down/bottom-up/co-development strategies; Individual and group methods; communication and engagement tools (e.g. social marketing; education and training; open learning communities; campaigns)
- Evaluating extension: theory, ethics, politics and power; methods
- Leadership and management of extension processes
Intended learning outcomes
- Critically reflect on the evolution of agricultural extension and extension policy around the world and the role of agricultural extension in a contemporary context.
- Design, explain and assess an engagement strategy for a project or activity involving different stakeholders and audiences
- Assess an extension project based on theories of change and including analysis of different strategies, methods and tools in delivery as well as suited evaluation approaches.
- Design, plan, and evaluate an extension project or program
- A profound respect for truth, intellectual and professional integrity, and the ethics of scholarship
- Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning
- An ability to derive, interpret and analyse social, technical or economic information from primary and other sources
- Utilise appropriate communication technology
- Capacity for creativity and innovation, through the application of skills and knowledge
- Ability to integrate information across a relevant discipline to solve problems in applied situations
- Highly developed written communication skills to allow informed dialogue with individuals and groups from industry, government and the community
- Highly developed oral communication skills to allow informed dialogue and liaison with individuals and groups from industry, government and the community
- Appreciation of social and cultural diversity from a regional to a global context
- Ability to participate effectively as a member of a team
- Ability to plan work, use time effectively and manage small projects
Last updated: 6 December 2019