Winter 1989 // Volume 27 // Number 4

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Editor's Page


Issues Identification and Program Planning

Yesterday's Extension ferment is today's Journal of Extension article. Today's Extension ferment is tomorrow's Journal article. Trends in Extension are reflected in the articles submitted to and eventually published in the Journal of Extension. Thus, in the past year, we've received more articles on issues identification and program planning than any other topics. Extension has been experiencing considerable ferment in these two areas.

All of the feature articles in this issue of the Journal remind us that concerns about responsive, high impact programming and being sensitive to emerging needs have already led to significant new directions in Extension.

Ferry and Kiernan describe how a four-county needs assessment survey led Pennsylvania family life agents to question their traditional assumptions about target audiences, program content, and delivery methods. Articles describing strategic planning in Colorado and a grassroots issues identification process in Texas make it clear that different states are organizing and implementing the planning process in different ways under varying conditions, but towards the same end - targeted, visible, responsive, and high impact educational programs based on significant issues of wide public concern.

Regular readers can compare the Colorado and Texas experiences to the Georgia:2000 process described in the last issue of the Journal of Extension (Fall 1989). By the way, we don't expect to publish planning articles on all 50 states. The only articles that will be published are those that, in the judgment of the Journal's peer review Editorial Committee, make significant new contributions to Extension's knowledge base about how we do what we do.

Scholl presents multistate findings on the diversity of factors that influence program development, reminding us that issues identification and programming transcend state boundaries. Huebner and Dickson, writing about Canadian Extension, say that being responsive to clientele interests means dealing with interest groups, and that means politics. Perhaps on no issue is the political climate more charged than water quality. The Canadian example concerns a specific water issue. Vaughn, in the Forum section, offers a general agenda for further defining and focusing the water quality issue as a National Initiative.

To the Point

The Journal has been facilitating dialogue among Extension leaders about the future of Extension in the new To the Point section.

Since inauguration of To the Point one year ago (Winter 1988), national and state leaders have called for new directions through issues programming that are visible, interdisciplinary, high impact, and cut across traditional program areas and departmental/college boundaries. The debate is no longer whether Extension should move boldly in new directions, but how to do so in a way that's true to our educational mission. Dialogue about the "how" continues in this issue's To the Point exchanges between three prominent, experienced, and knowledgeable state leaders.

New Directions for the Journal

As Extension changes, so must the Journal change to better serve our clients - you, our readers, the professional staff of the Cooperative Extension System at county, state, and national levels. The Board of Directors of the Journal has adopted a new mission statement, which now appears on the inside front cover.

The Editorial Committee has revised the criteria for peer review of articles based on the new mission. Those new criteria, and their rationale, are explained on page 32 of this issue. The criteria are listed in summary form on the inside front cover. Please review them - and then write an article. What's published here depends entirely on your submissions. Note in particular the emphasis on articles that contribute to Extension's research and knowledge base about Extension: Extension methods, educational theory, effective programs, and organizational developments.

Finally, at its most recent meeting, the board reinstated the Editor's Page. We'd dropped it earlier so that as much contributed material as possible could be published. However, feedback to the board and Editorial Committee indicated that some readers missed the Editor's Page. I'll devote the Editor's Page to highlighting major Extension themes, issues, trends, and developments as reflected in the articles we receive and publish. I may even, on occasion, express opinions aimed at contributing to Extension's ferment. My purpose will be to stimulate articles because today's Extension ferment is tomorrow's Journal article.

Michael Quinn Patton