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The 23rd European Seminar on Extension (and) Education (ESEE), entitled “Transformative learning: new directions in agricultural extension and education” will be held in the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, and hosted by the Lab. of Agricultural Extension, Rural Systems & Rural Sociology, Dept. of Agricultural Economics & Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens, on the 4th-7th July 2017.

● Proposal submission open: October 1, 2016
● Deadline of proposal submissions: December 15, 2016
● Decision of acceptation/rejection: January 31, 2017
● Deadline of full paper submissions: May 15, 2017
● Early bird registration closes: April 1, 2017
● Registration closes: June 15, 2017

In our times, based on a wide range of theoretical views on learning and change, new extension, education/ training and development approaches rooted in systems thinking and social learning perspectives have emerged; moreover, innovation is nowadays understood as a social as well as a technical process, as a nonlinear process, and as a process of interactive learning. Learning groups and networks have been shown as powerful means for engaging and empowering people, creating spaces for communication, knowledge exchanges, negotiation, experimentation and the development of skills and competencies. In parallel, the transition towards more sustainable forms of agriculture requires the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in networks allowing for and promoting social learning and the co-generation, adaptation, appropriation and use of innovations; in the same vein, participatory approaches and discovery and experiential learning vis-à-vis farm- and site-specific management approaches have been stressed.

The dominant Transfer-of-Technology model, despite its long history of innovations and increased effectiveness in food production, fails to respond to complex challenges and rapidly changing contexts – such as the increasingly complex and diverse modern agricultural systems as well as the shift to sustainable development implying trade-offs between environmental, social and economic sustainability. Therefore the conceptual evolution from the TOT model to network and systems approaches such as the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) and, more recently, to the agricultural innovation system (AIS) approach, embracing the totality of actors (and their interactions) involved in innovation. In this respect, ‘transforming’ extension, as an integral part of AKIS/AIS, involves a focus on co-designing rather than disseminating innovations implying, in turn, the building of networks, the articulation of the multiple dimensions of innovation and the ability to manage complexity, conflict and unpredictability.

Innovation studies increasingly focus on learning, with emphasis on facilitation and the processes of human interaction from which learning emerges; currently, growing attention is given to various types of (process) ‘intermediaries/ facilitators/ brokers’. However, conventional extensionists/ advisors encounter difficulties in taking over new roles. Therefore, further research addressing the improvement of the effectiveness of extension, including extension strategies and methods, extensionists’ key competencies and education/ training as well as institutional settings/ governance structures (including financing mechanisms) is needed. Similar issues pertain the case of farmers’ (especially of young farmers’) education and training since the transmissive/ ‘instructive’ model still predominates over the transformative/ ‘constructive and participative’ one and disciplinary knowledge over transdisciplinarity.

Transition for sustainability and the role of agricultural extension and agricultural education Pluralistic agricultural extension in a rapidly changing world: diversification, sustainability and marginality New roles, capacities and methods for extension in emergent innovation and entrepreneurship models Rural communication and the Big Data revolution Agricultural education in a rapidly changing world: competence assessment and strengthening, transdisciplinarity and internationalisation Upgrading and upskilling extension systems: transformation or new wine in old bottles? Monitoring and evaluation of advisory services: old challenges and new frameworks.

images  Visit the ESEE website, to access more details on the Conference, i.e. Call for Papers, Registration, Venue, Agenda etc.

SOURCE: ESEE website