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Newcomer questioning an experienced ESEE participant

August 27, 2009

The 19th ESEE will be the first  ~for me. I know about ESEE from Eelke Wielinga, an experienced ESEE go-er. Eelke Wielinga works as senior researcher for the Agricultural Economics Institute, which is part of Wageningen (NL) University and Research on network dynamics and knowledge systems. He has is own consultancy firm as well: LINK Consult. I took the opportunity to ask a few more questions.

What is ESEE about?
I asked Eelke what to expect of ESEE, and why the name “extension education”. He said that ESEE is “a scientific, but relatively informal” gathering. The name European Seminar on Extension Education comes from the history of the event. ESEE was started by a number of universities offering courses in agricultural extension. 
The name ESEE is now a bit outdated in several ways: the seminar is no longer limited to educational institutes, and many non-Europeans participate. The field of agricultural extension has evolved, as agriculture is now just one of many functions of rural areas. The term “extension” for many among us feels too much like doling out parcels of knowledge. Nowadays terms like knowledge sharing or learning processes as a part of integrated rural development are used to indicate the field.

We now regard rural development as a process with many stakeholders, such as people living in the area, farmers, entrepreneurs, local government, policy makers, trainers and advisors, education and research. Representatives of all these may be found at the ESEE seminar -what they share is an interest in the knowledge side of things.

Do you all know each other? Will I be the only newcomer?
Eelke estimates that about 50% of participants are familiar with ESEE, 50% are new (or newer) to ESEE. In people, there is some overlap with other meetings, such as IFSA (that also gather every two years, conveniently alternating with ESEE) or the European Society of Rural Sociology, that just met in Finland in August.

What do you -as a participant and organisor- hope to achieve this ESEE?
Eelke is in the scientific committee this year. As the organizing team, they feel that ESEE should not be like some congresses: a place to ‘drop off’ scientific papers. ESEE can be used to build up a discussion and to grow towards a common understanding of the major issues in our field, and maybe an agenda for the near future.

Eelke Wielinga: “Aren’t we professionals who deal with engaging their participants in their events? Who apply an interesting mix of methods to build towards joint learning or to tangible results? This is what we do or teach, let’s practise it among ourselves as well! Besides, new media are rapidly gaining importance compared to the classical tools of extension, and we should look at them. Preferably even make use of them.”

Eelke will be satisfied with the 19th ESEE if there is a feeling of true exchange, of interaction and of enthusiasm with participants. 

The Seminar’s final aim (as written here) is:
“To state strongly and loudly that advisory work (…) is a relevant component of the agro-food system and that its effectiveness is crucial for the progress of agriculture and for an holistic rural development.”

Eelke adds: Rural development is a complex system which adjusts to changing conditions. Let us reflect on how the conditions are changing, how the systems we work with are adjusting, how they are coping. The relevance of our work should be obvious, should be demonstrated by our stories, our engagement and our enthusiasm, rather than merely claimed.

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5 Comments
  1. Fabio M. antucci permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:50 pm

    Dear Josien, I really thank you for your effort and creative contribution. You’ll be a newcomer and we’ll do all our best to have you feeling among friends. See you soon in Santa Maria degli Angeli – Assisi, near Perugia!!

  2. August 27, 2009 6:58 pm

    thanks for your warm welcome already! I am looking forward. By the way, I slacked the “rules” for contributing comments on this blog: now if you comment it will appear directly and not be held for moderation.

    So, to all others; try it out! Take this great opportunity to play in a meaningful way with these ICT tools.

  3. Stefano Barbieri permalink
    August 29, 2009 8:09 am

    Congratulations to Eelke Wieling and Josien Kapma: the 19th ESEE blog is precisely what was needed to change the Assisi appointment, not just a date in the calendar, not a single occasion to meet, but one constantly open space for all those who work on the extension and believe in the opportunities of ICT and new media. We may know each other better, compare our experiences, discuss the enthusiasm, but also the hardships, of participation and sharing (the medals are always two sides). See you soon in Assisi and here on the blog.

  4. Fabio M. Santucci permalink
    September 1, 2009 8:52 am

    Four new participants from South Korea!! I have the pleasure to inform all participants that the XIX ESEE will be enriched with the arrival and participation of four friends from this Eastern Country. Korea has a very strong and diversified agriculture, a good engagement for rural development, and an efficient agricultural administration. These participants will surely add some new spice to our works.

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