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Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperative Extension. Evan Vlachos Sociology & Civil and Environmental Engineering Colorado State University. 1. The context of change and transformation 2. The changing world of agriculture and of rural communities

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Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperative Extension


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    1. Looking Forward:Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperative Extension Evan Vlachos Sociology & Civil and Environmental Engineering Colorado State University

    2. 1. The context of change and transformation 2. The changing world of agriculture and of rural communities • Uncertainty, complexity and interdependence: volatility and vulnerability 4. Implementing action: challenges and opportunities

    3. Premises of Foresight 1. Trend is not destiny

    4. Premises of Foresight 1. Trend is not destiny 2. Those who live by the crystal ball are bound to eat groundglass

    5. Premises of Foresight 1. Trend is not destiny 2. Those who live by the crystal ball are bound to eat groundglass 3. It is better to be approximately right rather than precisely wrong

    6. The Variety of “Shocks” in Current Society • Cultural Shock = technophobes and technophiles • Future Shock = “raplexity” • Information Shock = data and knowledge • Geopolitical Shocks = fragmentation and globalization

    7. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY 1. From goods to services tertiary economy 2. Emphasis on knowledge education, expertise 3. More social planning new planning techniques 4. Growing Technocracy skills and education

    8. The Grand Transformation • Complexity • Uncertainty • Turbulence • Globalization • Interdependence • Vulnerability Complexification

    9. Complexification A. Conceptual = shifting paradigms/complexity/ chaos/heterarchization B. Methodological = multi-/GIS, ES, AI, DSS/ systems/computational prowess C. Organizational = participatory/anticipatory/ contingency emphasis D. Substantive = new focus/areas of concern

    10. Landscape Ecology Agroecosystems Commodification Industrial agriculture Genetically engineered crops Closed system Agriculture “Rurban” Boutique farm Paradigm Holistic Approaches Volatility and Vulnerability “Raplexity” Partial Vocabulary for the 21st Century

    11. APROACHING AGRICULTURAL CHANGES • As crises(. . . and discontinuities) • As challenges • As trends and developments • As strategies and tactics

    12. As “Crises” • Crises 1: Farm and Ranch Survivability • Crises 2: Modernization • Crises 3: Feeding a Growing World • Crises 4: Safe Food and Drinking Water • Crises 5: Stewardship and the Environment • Crises 6: Urbanization and Land Use • Crises7: Country and Urban Conflicts Source: D. Hoag, Agricultural Crisis in America (1999)

    13. . . . and “discontinuities” • Long-distance food supply changes [commodity chains] • Global neo-liberalization of agriculture • The significant transformation in “structural differentiation” of American farms • Extraordinary industrialization and concentration of livestock production • The role of the new class of agricultural technologies (notably GUC) • The relocation of agrarian protest outside of mainstream production agriculture • Incipient “environmentalization” and related environmental criteria and regulators Source: Frerick H. Buttel; “Continuities and Disjunctures in the Transformation of the U.S. Agro-Food System (in press, 2003)

    14. As “challenges”Challenges for Public Agricultural Research • Globalization of the food economy • Emerging pathogens and other hazards in the food supply chain • Enhancing human health through nutrition • Improving environmental stewardship • Improving quality of life in rural communities Source: NRC, Frontiers in Agricultural Research (2003)

    15. As “trends and developments” = Structural transformations rurality and urbanization operation size = Technological changes automation, “closed system agriculture” genetics = trade and global competition interdependence and global forces = Social changes economic base “rurban” and botique farms = Environmental impacts monoculture and biodiversity pollution, pesticides, erosion

    16. As “strategies and tactics” = An agricultural system highly competitive in the global economy = A safe and secure food and fiber system = A healthy, well nourished population = Greater harmony between agriculture and the environment = Enhanced economic opportunity and quality of life for all Americans USDA Stakeholder Symposium (1997)

    17. The 3 Revolutions • The Green Revolution = tradition vs. modernization  complex organization • The “Geek” Revolution = Guttenberg vs. Gates  data and information • The Gene Revolution = Malthus vs. Mendel  bioengineering

    18. O.T. Solbrig, et al.: Globalization and the Rural Environment (2001)

    19. The farmer and his farm in effect have vanished. He is no longer working as an independent and loyal agent of his pace, his family, and his community, but instead as the agent of an economy that is fundamentally adverse to him and to all that he ought to stand for. Source: Wendell Berry “Renewing Husbandry” Orion 24, 5, September/October 2005, p.43

    20. Shifting Paradigms and the New Context Require : the physical and biological production environments : the genetic potential for increased productivity : the appropriate socio-economic circumstances in which the farmer operates : the maintenance of productive capacity of resources, while minimizing adverse effects on the environment

    21. UNDERLYING TRANSFORMATIONS VOLATILITY TURBULENCE AND UNCERTAINTY VULNERABILITY INTERDEPENDENCIES AND RISK VIGILANCE ENVIRONMENTAL SCANNING AND PREPAREDNESS

    22. VULNERABILITY [a] Fragile Physical Environment = environmental degradation = lack of ecosystem resilience = history of extreme hydrological events [b] Fragile Economy = economic inequalities/disparities = inadequate funding [c] Lack of Local Institutions = lack of social resilience = poor social protection = marginalization = capacity for recuperability [d] Lack of Preparedness = inadequate warning systems = lack of training = lack of community mobilization

    23. Archetypal Worldviews Worldview Antecedents Philosophy Motto Market optimism; hidden & enlightened hand Conventional Worlds Market Policy Reform Smith Don’t worry, be happy Keynes Bundtland Policy stewardship Growth, environment, equity through better technology & management Existential gloom; population/resource catastrophe Barbarization Breakdown Fortress World Malthus The end is coming Hobbes Social Chaos; nasty nature of man Order through strong leaders Pastoral romance; human goodness; evil of industrialism Great Transitions Eco-communalism New Sustainability Paradigm Morris & social utopians Ghandhi Small is beautiful Human solidarity, new values, the art of living Sustainability as progressive global social evolution Mill Muddling Through Your brother-in- law (probably Que sera, sera No grand philosophies Source: Great Transition [SEI, 2002]

    24. ALTERNATIVE WORLD FOOD SITUATION ENVIRONMNENTS[supply - demand emphasis] I. TECHNOLOGY INDUCED ABUNDANCE = technology driven plentiful, low cost food II. SUPPLY - DEMAND REASONABLE BALANCE = problem of both abundance and scarcity, periodic crises, some reasonable management III. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT = conservation, ZPG, demand-managed future IV. MALTHUSIAN NIGHTMARES = starvation, famines, ecocatastrophes, geopolitical, upheavals, disequilibrium

    25. Requisites for the Transition • The Need for New Paradigms • Sustainability, heterarchy, co-evolution • The Understanding of New Contexts • “Raplexity,” interdependence, globalization • The Emergence of New Methodologies • Cumulative, synergistic, diachronic impacts • Indicators, DSS, data-information, judgement • Computational prowess

    26. The Politics of Transformation Building Data / DSS Expanding Knowledge / Judgement Creating Institutions / Capacity Building Mobilize Resources Articulate Values

    27. Towards a “Vigilance” Strategy Environmental Scanning [Monitor trends and developments] Organizational Mobilization [Improve management] Decision Support Systems [Intelligence, interpretation, implementation] Contingency Planning [Wider range of alternatives and options]