The Association for International Agricultural Extension Education (AIAEE) just released their Call for Professional Development Proposals for next year's annual Conference, to be held in Orlando, Florida. The theme of the 2024 Conference is "Looking back, Focusing forward," and given the domestic location, attendance is expected to be high.
This past April, AIAEE held their 2023 Conference in Guelph, Canada, hosted by the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, in the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. The theme this year was "Technology, Pluralism and Inclusiveness in Agriculture, Food and Environment."
Four members of GEIN (Ben Grove, Virginia Tech; Amanda Dickson, Purdue University; Taryn Devereux, University of Maryland; and Nicole Strong, Oregon State) submitted a Professional Development Session proposal which was accepted into the conference: "Considering the future of extension internationalization: what do we know and what do we need to know?"
In this interactive session, which took place on Friday, April 28, participants explored extension internationalization, reviewed relevant case studies, and engaged in critical discussion on applying lessons learned and best practices. We also explored common understandings of higher education and extension internationalization, examples of current practice, considerations for future practice and study, and encouraged collaboration between extension professionals and academic faculty.
About 20 attendees attended the session, representing a mix of academic faculty members, extension professionals, and graduate and undergraduate students. Among that group, about one fourth had participated in or were affiliated with international extension.
Following a presentation by the GEIN team, the session participants were broken into groups and then went through multiple rounds of discussion questions, including:
- How can extension internationalization support the Land Grant mission for global engagement?
- How might global engagement support transformative and/or reparative relationships? How can we prevent harm in extension internationalization?
- What issues, considerations and opportunities await the extension system with respect to internationalization in the coming decades? (in the U.S.)
Discussion was highly fruitful. Key takeaways from the session include demonstrated interest by the different members of the audience in the topic area and demand for more of a bridge between extension professionals and academics. Many references were made to the need for intentional inclusiveness and holistic approaches that incorporate indigenous knowledge, empower diverse voices, and build trust with communities.
Another key takeaway is that the rapid changes in this field and the way in which "internationalization" has shifted in a post-COVID world means that extension professionals and academics alike must be responsive and collaborative in order to make needed investments in the next generation. As workforce demographics shift, how can our field recruit and retain talented individuals and open up to new platforms for knowledge exchange?
These takeaways segue nicely into next year's AIAEE theme, "Looking back, Focusing forward," and GEIN plans to propose a Professional Development Session along these lines. Stay posted!
Image Caption: (L to R) Amanda Dickson (Purdue University), Ben Grove (Virginia Tech); Taryn Devereux (University of Maryland) represented GEIN at a Professional Development Session at the 2023 AIAEE Conference.