ERIC Number: ED393609
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Apr
Systems Thinking and Participatory Research and Extension Skills: Can These Be Taught in the Classroom? Occasional Papers in Rural Extension, No. 10.
Jiggins, Janice; Roling, Niels
Over the last decade, there have been rapid developments in field methodologies within participatory approaches to rural and agricultural development. At the same time, the use of "soft systems" methodologies for bringing potentially conflictual or disparate actors together for action has spread from the business world to other applications. These new methodologies are based on the ideas that: (1) action for change and impossible as a voluntary process without a commitment to change and that participation is a necessary condition for commitment, and (2) complex decisions in conditions of uncertainty and immediacy are best handled from a systems perspective. Information about and competence in using and adapting these methodologies remain largely in the store of "craft knowledge" of professionals. Academic institutions have been slow to train students in the emerging professionalism of systems management and participatory research and extension, and have tended to view such professional work practices and skills as best developed in the field. This paper outlines reasons why such a view is no longer viable; outlines principles and goals for training and practice in rural development, agricultural research, and extension; describes efforts of a few universities worldwide to address these training needs; and examines questions about whether the needed skills can be taught in the classroom. Two university innovations in this area are described: systems-based curricula at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) emphasizing experiential learning, student reflection, and problem solving; and an intensive 3-week course on participatory research and extension at Guelph University (Ontario). Contains over 100 references. (SV)
Descriptors: Action Research, Change Agents, College Curriculum, Community Action, Community Development, Experiential Learning, Extension Agents, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Participatory Research, Problem Solving, Professional Education, Rural Development, Rural Extension, Systems Approach
Dept. of Rural Extension Studies, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1 ($5.35 Canadian). Available electronically: http://tdg.uoguelph.ca/[tilda]res/occasional[underscore]papers/10.html
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Guelph Univ. (Ontario). Dept. of Rural Extension Studies.