Participants were from Thailand, Chile, Burundi, Morocco,
Nigeria, Ireland, Indonesia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Great Britain,
India, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, and the
Two excellent synthesis papers were developed on the integration
of environment and sustainable development elements into (a)
extension (Nebraska case study done by C.A. Francis included) and
(b) higher education programs (Michigan case study done by F.
Bobbitt). Other papers included gender, FAO policy and programs,
summary reports from Asia, the Near East, Franco- and Anglophone
Africa, and central/ East Europe.
A final document will be prepared to help FAO facilitate this
worldwide shift in curriculum -- for both extension and higher
education. This is being written by a consultant.
The strengths of U.S. programs were evident -- growing faculty
commitment, joint appointments, regional extension and research
centers, Extension's targeted issues based programming, good
linkages to the public and broad citizen involvement in program
development, a growing land-grant commitment to sustainability,
many colleges of agriculture's curriculum renewal efforts, and
the emphasis on natural resources.
The breadth of the future issues and problems -- population,
diversity, diminishing resources, boundedness, and lack of
citizen knowledge about the food system and our role in it --
continue to challenge us here in the U.S.
As a result of this conference, I think we need to redouble our
commitment -- environmentalism and sustainability must become
integral to our expanded teaching efforts and our extension
missions, and underpin our all research.
The third world has vast environmental problems and limited
resources, as we do, but their problems seem so immediate. Few
of us seem to realize that we are all interconnected, artificial
constructs and linked components in the global system.
All this provides either a fertile arena for totally fatalistic
pessimism, or a slight breeding ground for hope. The
consultation showed some valiant individual and institutional
attempts at small, but linked triumphs.
The risks in promoting and advocating environmentalism,
sustainability, and ultimately, stewardship, are immense and
intimidating, extensive and overwhelming; successes will be few
and far between, I believe. But as I look at it, we simply
cannot afford not to participate. We must continue challenging
the present, thinking out new thoughts, developing new visions,
and acting in consort with each other as family.
Thanks again for all your help, and Season's Greetings.