How is University Extension Different from Cooperative Extension?

University extension at the University of Washington and the University of California at Santa Cruz fits the model of a continuing education program for college graduates. UC Santa Cruz Extension, for example, serves people with average annual incomes of more than $40,000, many of them interested in retooling or midcareer development. It offers formal instructional courses for credit and no credit. Unlike cooperative extension, university extension is not designed to reach underrepresented communities or to solicit grass-roots input regarding educational and research needs.

  • the role of public research and extension in relation to these different groups and the need to target and prioritize programs accordingly;
  • the importance of and potential for reforging links among research, extension, and teaching; and
  • the need for meaningful performance indicators for extension (as well as teaching and research) and the need for more critical review and evaluation.

In this chapter the committee reviews the continuing national interest in the extension component of the land grant university's tripartite mission and the federal government's role in advancing the national interest. Focused on are two controversial issues: (1) the growing privatization of agricultural extension and (2) extension's nonfarm (or nonproduction) programs. The committee also discusses and makes recommendations regarding the allocation of federal extension funds.

The National Interest In Public Access To Food And Agricultural Knowledge And Research

The interface between the food and agricultural system and global and national well-being is extensive and complex. Involved are food needs and human health, economic performance and competitiveness, environmental quality, and sustainability of the natural resource base. Such complexity calls for a well-knit articulation of food and agricultural research and societal goals. Cooperative extension, as the interface between the university and the people, has an important continuing role in assuring that the conduct of related sciences is in the national interest.

Extension shares this role increasingly with the private sector; however, publicly financed extension remains in the national interest for three main reasons.

  1. First, a publicly supported extension service can assure that food and agricultural and related scientific research translate into practical applications and new technologies with broad-based public benefits.
  2. Second, extension can help guarantee that information that influences public policy and private decisions regarding the food and agricultural system (and its interface with human health, natural resources and the environment, and economic performance) is widely accessible, accurate, and science-based.
  3. Third, extension can play an important role in assuring that all peoples' problems and needs (not just those of people who can afford to pay) are relayed to research


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