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Document Type

Research From the Field

Abstract

The array of problems presented to Extension professionals is broad and growing in number and complexity. As Extension has demonstrated its adaptability in addressing these issues, new ways of working have emerged. Access to an expanding pool of scientific reports and data can potentially provide Extension professionals with the greater tools and knowledge they need to collaboratively engage with their communities. However, a key challenge and possible impediment will be access to rapidly emerging research and data. Open science and open data can broaden the evidence base available to Extension educators, and the emerging field of data science offers new tools to help Extension stakeholders make data-informed decisions. A new data-sharing partnership among Canada, Mexico, and the United States may serve as a model for other countries’ rural advisory services and national Extension systems. Fully implementing this expanded role for Extension will require resources to establish a National Community Learning Network and a national data commons as well as advocacy for open access policies at all levels of government. As abstract as open science and open data may seem to local and regional Extension practitioners, equal access to scientific knowledge and underlying research data is not only imperative for local community engagement but also integral for locally appropriate decision-making. Widening access to research and data directly supports the democratization of science and Extension. Opening scientific research and providing effective access to publicly financed data will become essential platforms for university engagement and Extension. It is critical for Extension professionals to understand the analytic powers and emerging policies that easily-accessed research and data can bring to collaborative community engagement.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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