The Attitudes of Extension Faculty Toward Globalizing Extension Programs: A Case Study of Virginia Cooperative Extension

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Virginia Tech

Over the past several years, many state Cooperative Extension Services have taken inventory of their engagement with international issues, including barriers (real and perceived) to active participation in globalizing programs as well as staff needs for effective communication with diverse audiences. While Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) has actively involved 4-H youth in international exchange programs, they have not engaged in a coherent and proactive effort to globalize all program areas.

The study purpose was to assess attitudes of VCE faculty toward globalizing their programming efforts. Also examined were information related to VCE faculty's current involvement in globally-focused activities and barriers to globalizing programming efforts.

The survey instrument combined various sections of two surveys developed and employed by Barbara Ludwig in studies on Ohio Cooperative Extension. The web-based survey included four sections: 1) Employee Profile, 2) Involvement in International Activities, 3) Perception towards Global Issues, and 4) Perceived Barriers to Globalizing Extension Programs.

The target audience included all VCE faculty members (N = 332). Two hundred six faculty members completed the on-line survey. This represents a return rate of 62%.

Data revealed that 92% of the respondents were involved in international efforts within the past five years. On a scale of one to four, with four representing the highest level of engagement, campus administrators (mean = 2.66) and specialists (mean = 2.13) were the most involved in international programming effort; the least involved were the district directors (mean = 1.21). "Exchanged ideas with colleagues from other countries" and "hosted an international visitor" were the top two activities performed by faculty.

Data also revealed an attitude mean score of 2.9 on a scale from one to four, with four being the most positive. Campus administrators (mean = 3) were the most positive of the four position categories; agents were the least positive (mean = 2.86).

Furthermore, the top two barriers to globalizing VCE programs, as identified by respondents, were "lack of financial support" and "not a programming priority". Respondents also selected "Lack of time" as a major barrier.

Globalization, Barriers, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Attitudes