Investigating the Capacity of a Re-envisioned Cooperative Extension System to Build a Culture of Health

Grants and Contracts Details


The University of Kentucky proposes to explore how Land Grant Universities (LGUs) can improve the culture of health in communities by utilizing and enhancing the traditional Cooperative Extension System (CES) as its infrastructure for effecting positive change. The mission of the CES, “to take knowledge gained through research and education and bring it directly to the people to create positive change” traditionally has focused on bringing evidencebased science and technologies to farmers. However, the transformation of the nation’s economy from agrarian- based to manufacturing and now to a knowledge and service economy offers new challenges and opportunities to the CES and its change agents model. We have the potential to achieve the common goals of both entities, namely CES and RWJF, by taking knowledge generated at LGUs directly to the people through CES to build a culture of health. Before investing significant resources into this potential solution, it is critical to examine and determine the feasibility of this transformative model not by just one LGU but by the CES nationwide. A white paper will be developed that describes how LGUs and CES are structured and function together in addition to exploring the following ideas to build a culture of health. 1. Using the University of Kentucky CES as a case study, identify the current capacities and limitations of the CES to promote a culture of health broadly across sectors and populations. We will undertake asset mapping to determine the totality of resources that may be expended by the CES to support multi-sector initiatives that promote a culture of health. Asset mapping will allow us to identify the building blocks for re-envisioning a CES devoted to enhancing communities’ cultures of health. We will conduct several focus groups and key informant interviews with groups of stakeholders from CES (including a recent survey disseminated to all CES agents in Kentucky) and outside CES (government, industry, education, and other nonprofit sectors) to determine features in support of and in need of transformation for implementation of a new CES model. Specific areas of inquiry include: a. What additional on-campus or off-campus resources are needed to facilitate a change network? (Collaborative space, project seed funding, etc.) b. What are the priority needs that a change network can and should address? (Economic, housing, workforce, education, equity, etc.) c. What infrastructure can best facilitate an efficient and impactful relationship between campus, local/regional agents, and communities? d. Who else should be brought to the table to devise and implement this new model? 2. Identify new platforms capable of promoting campus to community partnerships and determine the feasibility of these platforms. We will gather information to propose innovative platforms (data portals), including digital visualization whereby information can be shared between campus and community leaders. Led by team members at the College of Design-School of Architecture and the Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments, such platforms include: multi-modal approaches that streamline the collaborative context and lead to creative innovations and measurable outcomes, including programming that connects scientific, practitioner, and community perspectives and creates new knowledge. For example, developing a scalable decision-making toolkit - an interactive web community that shares data in an accessible, usable manner will help determine whether an expanded CES change agent model maximizes the potential for the project to benefit society, advance desired social outcomes, and develop concepts that can be incubated and scaled up or down to address a range of contexts.
Effective start/end date6/1/173/31/18


  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: $142,667.00


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