Conflict and engagement: An empirical study of a farmer-extension partnership in a sustainable agriculture program

  • Nancy Grudens-Schuck


Stakeholder engagement is a crucial concept of extension education. Engagement expresses democratic values of the land-grant mission by providing opportunities for stakeholders to influence program planning, including setting the agenda and negotiating resource allocations. In practice, the concept of engagement guides the formation of partnerships among extension, communities, industry, and government. In the area of sustainable agriculture, however, stakeholders may conflict, presenting challenges to the engagement process. Results from a study of a Canadian sustainable agriculture program, produced using cultural anthropology and participatory action research, detail challenges of the engagement process that led to reconstruction of a farmer-extension partnership. Notable in the early phase of the reconstruction process were critical reflection, stakeholder forums, exclusion through caucusing, and coalition building. An argument for a neopragmatist view provides a theoretical basis for understanding counterintuitive dimensions of engagement revealed by the study.

Key Words

adult education engagement farm planning Ontario participatory action research partnerships sustainable agriculture 



New Democratic Party


nongovernmental organizations


participatory action research


public issues education


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Grudens-Schuck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Education and StudiesIowa State UniversityAmes

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