Public Talk, Public Action: Professional Development Community of Practice
PI: Wright, W. (Michigan State Univ.)
Co-PI: Hodge, S. (Univ. of Missouri)
The goal of this initiative is to strengthen the capacity of Extension professionals to work in partnership with the public to design, implement, and learn from citizen-centered approaches that focus on current and emerging contested public issues. We propose to organize a professional development community of practice (PDCoP) to broaden Extension educators’ partnership work with local governments, public agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and citizens. This will help to ensure that the collective resources of the community are tapped to address and manage tough public issues. The practical outcome is to make “dialogue and deliberation” (D&D) a common offering—and prominent feature—in Extension educational offerings. We will do this by developing a community of practice among Extension educators across the nation with the use of the web-based eXtension educational platform. This effort can help ExtensionEducators develop the skills to assist communities as they struggle with difficult and controversial public issues such as land use, zoning, health care, bioenergy or economic development. Addressing contentious issues where the public may be divided will require that future Educators have knowledge of and skills in community-based deliberation strategies – ones that are intended to empower citizens to share their voices and to pursue action on the difficult issues having important impacts on individuals, families/households, and communities. The intent of this PDCoP is to help Extension educators gain the set of skills, competencies, and experiences needed to effectively employ citizen-centered approaches as a core part of their Extension engagement activities.