October 8, 2015

Envisioning New Roles for land-grant university Extension: Lessons learned from climate change outreach in the Midwest

By Linda Prokopy and Rebecca Power

The Extension Reconsidered blog features posts from guest contributors who care about Cooperative Extension, the land-grant mission, community arts and humanities, civic engagement, and other issues related to the Extension Reconsidered initiative.

We have been working together for over four years on a USDA-NIFA funded project called Useful to Usable (U2U) that is developing climate information for corn producers in the North Central Region (http://www.agclimate4u.org). As part of this project, we have conducted surveys with farmers, Extension personnel and agricultural advisors. We have broadly defined agricultural advisors for the purpose of this study and surveyed state agency staff (Departments of Agriculture, Departments of Environment), Federal agency staff (NRCS and FFA), county agency staff (Soil and Water Conservation Districts), agricultural bankers, Certified Crop Advisors, input dealers among others. Surveyed farmers managed over 80 acres of corn and grossed $100,000 in 2011; operators of small farms are not included in this analysis. Extension educators surveyed were in agriculture and natural resources program areas.

These surveys revealed several interesting findings that suggest new directions for Extension in our region.

  1. Land-grant university Extension educators do not believe in anthropogenic climate change at the same level as university scientists (Prokopy et al. 2015b; see Table 1). This reveals a troubling disconnect between climate science and Extension, which has a critical role in disseminating the best science to the public and effectively conveying the needs of the public to university researchers.
  2. Medium and large sized corn farmers are most influenced in their farm management decisions by Certified Crop Advisors and input dealers. A full 40% of farmers who responded to our farmer survey said they had no contact with extension or were not influenced by them. Certified Crop Advisors and input dealers were cited as having a much greater influence (Davidson et al. 2015; see Figure 1). However, in other work we have conducted, we found that farmers in the Midwest trust Extension more than they trust other groups (Mase et al. in press).
  3. The diversity of advisors that we surveyed trust Extension more than they trust any other group for climate related information (Prokopy et al. 2015a; see Figure 2).


Table 1: Excerpt from Prokopy et al. 2015b. CSCAP is the Corn-Based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (www.sustainablecorn.org) funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Figure 1: Excerpt from Davidson et al. 2015. Results of a 2012 survey of 4778 medium- to large sized corn producers in the Midwestern United States, conducted by scientists from U2U and the CSCAP. Results presented are in response to the question, “Please indicate how influential the following groups and individuals are when you make decisions about agricultural practices and strategies.” More information about the methodology of this survey and survey findings can be found in Arbuckle et al. (2013) and Loy et al (2013). FSA is the USDA Farm Services Agency. NRCS is the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Figure 2: Excerpt from Prokopy et al. 2015a. Non-extension agricultural advisors’ trust in different groups as sources of information about climate change. This diverging stacked bar chart presents the trust data sorted by “Strongly trust.” The axis is the count of the number of respondents. Bars to the right of 0 indicate trust and bars to the left of 0 indicate distrust.

What does this mean for the future of land-grant university Extension and research in addressing issues related to climate change and agriculture? While our research relates to research and education on anthropogenic climate change, we suggest this research asks us to consider the following:

  1. There needs to be more ongoing communication between land-grant university researchers (with and without Extension appointments) and Extension educators. Land-grant university researchers need to do a better job communicating climate-related scientific findings to Extension educators. Similarly, Extension educators need to communicate to researchers what they are hearing from farmers, agricultural advisors, and agriculture and conservation agencies and organizations — those with a stake in research results. Extension educators can help ensure that research is both meeting user needs and is communicated effectively.
  2. There needs to be a strong institutional commitment to ensure that both university researchers and Extension educators are rewarded in the tenure and promotion system for building these relationships. While there are strong examples across the country of researchers and educators collaborating on climate-related programming in agriculture, land-grant university administrators can facilitate more consistent collaboration by emphasizing the value of integrated research and extension in tenure, promotion, and other reward systems.
  3. Extension educators need to continue cultivating relationships with agricultural advisors and expand programs that emphasize agricultural advisors as recipients of university research and tools. Given that farmers and agricultural advisors trust Extension, and given that Extension has fewer “boots on the ground” in many states, strengthening programming to agricultural advisors can maximize impact and be a strategic allocation of land-grant university resources.

Climate-related information is critical for farmers and to sustain the production of food, fiber, fuel, and to keep rural communities that rely on agriculture strong. Extension has the capacity to provide leadership in translating climate-related information for farmers. We hope that research coming out of U2U and the other projects we describe above can inform Extension’s future and benefit the people land-grant universities serve.

We’re interested in your feedback on these ideas. Please feel free to contact either of us:
Linda Prokopy – lprokopy@purdue.edu
Rebecca Power – rlpower@wisc.edu

References; please contact Dr. Prokopy if you would like a copy of any of these.

Arbuckle, J. Gordon Jr., Linda Stalker Prokopy, Tonya Haigh, Jon Hobbs, Tricia Knoot, Cody Knutson, Adam Loy, Amber Saylor Mase, Jean McGuire, Lois Wright Morton, John Tyndall and Melissa Widhalm. 2013. Climate Change beliefs, Concerns, and Attitudes Toward Adaptation and Mitigation Among Farmers in the Midwestern United States. Climatic Change, 117(4): 943–950.

Davidson, Eric A., Emma C. Suddick, Charles W. Rice, Linda S. Prokopy. 2015. More Food, Low Pollution (Mo Fo Lo Po): A Grand Challenge for the 21st Century. Journal of Environmental Quality, 44: 305-311.

Loy, A., J. Hobbs J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., L. Wright Morton, L.S. Prokopy, T. Haigh, T. Knoot, C. Knutson, A.S Mase, J. McGuire, J. Tyndall, and M. Widhalm. 2013. Farmer Perspectives on Agriculture and Weather Variability in the Corn Belt: A Statistical Atlas. Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project 0153-2013. Ames, IA: Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project: Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation in Cornbased Cropping Systems.

Mase, Amber Saylor, Nicholas L. Babin, Linda Stalker Prokopy, Kenneth Genskow. In Press. Trust in Sources of Soil and Water Quality Information: Implications for Environmental Outreach and Education. Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Prokopy, Linda Stalker, J. Staurt Carlton, J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., Tonya Haigh, Maria Carmen Lemos, Amber Saylor Mase, Nicholas Babin, Mike Dunn, Jeff Andresen, Jim Angel, Chad Hart, Rebecca Power. 2015a. Extension’s Role in Disseminating Information about Climate Change to Agricultural Stakeholders. Climatic Change, 130(2): 261-272.

Prokopy, Linda Stalker, Lois Wright Morton, J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., Amber Saylor Mase, Adam Wilke. 2015b. Agricultural Stakeholder Views on Climate Change: Implications for Conducting Research and Outreach. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

September 29, 2015

Imagining America to Receive Phi Beta Kappa Key of Excellence

Prize Recognizes Exemplary Efforts to Engage Communities with Arts and Sciences

Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Scott Peters, Johnnetta Cole, Timothy Eatman, and Katherine Soule (left to right) at the reception on October 1, 2015. Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Baltimore, Md. September 29, 2015 – The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society, will present Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life with the capstone Key of Excellence Award and its $10,000 prize at a reception on Thursday, October 1 during the 15th annual national Imagining America conference.

Phi Beta Kappa will present the award at the Baltimore Museum of Art during a ceremony with featured remarks from Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Imagining America’s Faculty Co-Directors Drs. Timothy Eatman and Scott Peters will accept the award in support of its work.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society created the Key of Excellence Awards to energize support for the arts and sciences because of their value to the nation. “The Key of Excellence showcases innovative programs that demonstrate the excellence, range, and relevance of the arts and sciences to their communities,” said Phi Beta Kappa President Katherine Soule. “We aim to show decision makers that the arts and sciences develop both inventive employees and thoughtful citizens. They are vital to a vibrant culture and democracy.”

Currently based at Syracuse University, Imagining America is a consortium of over 100 universities and community-based organizations dedicated to animating the civic purposes of the humanities, arts, and design through mutually beneficial community-campus partnerships. The selection committee chose Imagining America for this recognition because of its outstanding efforts to advance the civic purposes of American higher education. Major initiatives —such as Undergraduate Civic Professionalism, Engaged Scholars, Performing Our Future, Civic Science, the Tenure Team Initiative on Public Scholarship, and Public: A Journal of Imagining America —promote positive social change in communities while developing rigorous research that encourages and facilitates the role of civic engagement in liberal arts and sciences education.

“Imagining America brings artists, scholars, designers, community partners, and students together to link stories, fulfill the democratic purposes of higher education, and to address collectively the challenges and opportunities facing the nation,” said Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “We applaud Imagining America for its efforts to ensure that the teaching and research that takes place in classrooms and studios are relevant to, beneficial for, and reflective of its broader communities.”

“We are humbled and inspired by this esteemed award, and grateful for the opportunity it provides to recognize and honor the many bold leaders in our consortium–including our founder, Julie Ellison–who exemplify the power of publicly engaged scholarship in humanities, arts, and design fields.  While this award is a capstone for Phi Beta Kappa’s Key of Excellence event series, we view it as a sign of things yet to come as our still young and growing consortium prepares to open a new chapter in its history,” said Eatman and Peters. Members of IA’s national board led by Bruce Burgett and Lisa Lee will also attend the ceremony.

Every fall, Imagining America’s national conference is a site of collaboration, active dialogue, and problem solving around major issues facing public scholarship and creative practice. This year’s Baltimore-based conference, hosted by UMBC, and co-hosted by MICA, and Morgan State University, centers on the theme “Let America Be! The Art and Power of ‘Weaving Our We,’” and takes place October 1-3.

Previous recipients of the Key of Excellence Award are Arizona State University’s Project Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Wisconsin Science Festival, the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts, and the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement.

About The Phi Beta Kappa Society
Founded on December 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society. It has chapters at 283 colleges and universities in the United States and more than half a million members around the world. Its mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression. For more information, visit www.pbk.org.

About The National Arts & Sciences Initiative
Higher education is at a crossroads, with many of our country’s leaders questioning the need for a broad-based arts and sciences curriculum. Phi Beta Kappa launched a multi-year National Arts & Sciences Initiative to strengthen support for the value of the arts and sciences today. The initiative demonstrates that a broad-based arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity and innovation, and makes a strong investment in America.

About Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life
Launched at a 1999 White House Conference, Imagining America is a thriving consortium of over 100 colleges, universities, and cultural organizations working toward the democratic transformation of higher education and civic life. Imagining America members strengthen the public roles of arts, humanities, and design fields through research and action initiatives, coalition building, and leadership development. Learn more at www.imaginingamerica.org.

About the National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is America’s first museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W. For more information, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the National Museum of African Art’s website at africa.si.edu.


September 25, 2015

Webinar: Creating Spaces for Dialogue Across Disciplines & Cultures

Please join Imagining America’s webinar, hosted by Jonathan DamianiCreating Spaces for Dialogue Across Disciplines & Cultures: Toward a Theory of Internationally Engaged Scholarship, on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 at 4PM EST.

During this webinar participants will analyze the civic engagement pathways of researchers from inside and outside America in an effort to see how the principles of what American scholars consider publicly engaged research and creative practice, are being enacted in research sites across the globe. The purpose of this ongoing project is to focus on finding ways of connecting Imagining America (IA) with a network of higher education and research institutions that hold a commitment and passion for social responsibility and civic engagement as it impacts education, research and service for community development overseas. This webinar, and its emerging narrative, will be focused on understanding the value of developing partnerships with scholars from different cultures and disciplines and logically increasing the amount of exchange that takes place between scholars inside and outside of the United States. These conversations will serve as a critical reflection on the mechanics of doing public scholarship overseas, and will continue to frame a new model of internationally engaged scholarship that took root during IA’s national event in 2014.

Discussion Questions (Included but not limited to):

  1. Participants at IA 2014 repeatedly pointed to the value of acknowledging international scholars and emerging experts already in place at American institutions, and finding more meaningful ways to tap into their marginalized voices. How can American institutions and IA work to create ways of marrying the academic homes and lives of their international scholars around the theme of publicly engaged work?
  2. What are some ways we can help scholars from different backgrounds draw closer ideologically and develop new shared theories and local language that can be tested through collective action?
  3. Using some networks already in place as examples, how can IA help engaged scholars home and abroad create spaces for these exciting and unusual conversations to occur across disciplines and cultures?

Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android
Or join by phone (US Toll): (646) 568 7788 or (415) 762 9988
Meeting ID: 439 547 728.
 International numbers available:

Please contact Jonathan Damiani, jonathandamiani@nucba.ac.jp, to sign-up for the webinar.

September 23, 2015

Meet the 2015 JGS Photo & Digital Media Fellows

"Untitled Study On History And Aesthetics." Photo by: Elliott Brown Jr., New York University. 2015-16 JGS Fellow.

“Untitled Study On History And Aesthetics.” Photo by: Elliott Brown Jr., New York University. 2015-16 JGS Fellow.

Imagining America announces recipients of the 2015-16 fellowship award for publicly engaged students of photography and media who are using their artistic practice to transform their communities. Thanks to a generous grant from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation (JGS), Imagining America annually selects a cohort of student artists from our member institutions to receive a tuition award of $2,000 and to join a national working group of engaged media makers. These undergraduate and graduate students demonstrated leadership in facilitating community-based photo or media arts experiences with people unlikely to otherwise have access to art-making.

Criteria for the student awardees included financial need, artistic merit, and quality of community-engaged practice.

The awardees will convene at the 2015 national conference, October 1-3, in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Elliot Brown Jr., New York University
  • Harrison Hill, Western Kentucky University
  • Meadow Jones, University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana
  • Hyunju Kim, The Ohio State University
  • Olivia Pea, Wagner College
  • Jaclin Paul, UMBC: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Kimberly Powell, Syracuse University
  • Hilary Rosensteel, MICA: Maryland Institute College of Art

Click here to learn more about the 2015 JGS Fellows.

September 11, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 PAGE Blog Salon

Welcome to the 4th Annual PAGE Blog Salon!

The 2015­-2016 PAGE Fellows are scholars, activists, and artists at universities across the United States. They are dedicated to advancing critical inquiry into social movements, cultural production, and issues of social and political agency using storytelling, public scholarship, and engaged pedagogy. Together their work spans the theories and practices of engaged scholarship, both in and outside of academia.

The Blog Salon will take place over five days, featuring diverse content produced by the Fellows each day. We invite you to engage with these innovative scholars and the entire PAGE community with your comments, questions, and insights. This year’s Salon format is organized with Fellows selecting one of three paths:

  • ­­Responding to an article or syllabus. Specifically, new Fellows use the Salon to join an ongoing conversation with IA’s National Advisory Board.
  • Responding to questions about public engagement’s role in academia, and to local movements and current events. ­­
  • Offering a visual meditation, creative work, art, and/or poetry.

We are truly excited to introduce this year’s Fellows to you. The Fellows and PAGE alums will be continuing these conversations during IA’s national conference in Baltimore in a session entitled: C.O.P.E.— Coming Out Publicly Engaged on October 3 from 10:00AM to 11:30AM. We look forward to discussing strategies for how to thrive at the intersections of academia, creative praxis, and engagement.

The 2015-­2016 National PAGE Co-­Directors
Elyse, Janeke, Jen, Johanna, Alyssa, Naphtali and Stephanie