Every extension strategy, like the actions of individual extension staff, reflects particular world views about the nature of knowledge and truth. These worldviews become the (usually) hidden assumptions about why we are doing extension, and why we prefer particular methods or approaches over others. Extension has a long heritage in science, and applying objective measures of reality. This has been based upon one (usually positivist) way of viewing the world, nature, and how to address the agricultural issues that have arisen. Recent trends in agriculture and rural communities have highlighted issues that cannot be resolved through science. Indeed in some cases, it has been the widespread adoption of particular technologies and scientific results that have added to existing problems (e.g. in the environment). This has led some extension people to apply new strategic approaches from interpretivist, radical humanist, and radical structuralist to their work. Each of these approaches is associated with world views that affect all parts of an extension strategy from its purpose, its structure, its methods, and the competencies required in delivery. It is when inconsistencies arise in a strategy between say the world views forming its intent (which may be science based) and the world views underpinning its delivery (which, for example may be based upon critical theory) that internal coherency is compromised, debilitating the delivery of any extension activities. People considering strategies based upon world views that they are unfamiliar with, may find themselves needlessly challenging the technical content of such proposals when the strength may be based upon other priorities such as relationship building or social emancipation.
This paper is intended to be an introduction to studies into world views and their application in policy interventions, research and extension. Its results will assist extension people to consider the applicability of a wide range of world views as the basis to informing their practice and framing strategy.
Parminter TG, Botha CAJ, Small B 2003. Appreciating the influence of our own and others’ world views upon extension strategies. Proceedings of the APEN National Forum.