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Acting as a change agent in supporting sustainable agriculture: how to cope with new professional situations?

Résumé : How do change agents deal with the diversity of farmers' attitudes towards the future of agriculture? How do they themselves cope with change and understand their role as change agents? We chose a comprehensive, action-training approach to answer such questions and worked with agents belonging to two different extension networks. The agents acknowledged their historically built professional models and discussed their professional situations in relation to the need to develop new skills and to address new audiences. Some dimensions of these situations were pointed out as crucial in the change process: (1) the agent's position among farmers and those who act to change farming practices at local level; (2) the tension between the agent's engagement in promoting more environmentally-friendly practices, and the role that managers and farmers assign to the agent; and (3) the way of combining scientific and technical knowledge with farmers' own knowledge. Our work also highlighted the diversity of the agents' points of view on change at farm level (discontinuity versus continuity) and the way to handle it: respectively by making the discontinuity visible and manageable at farm level, or by supporting a step-by-step management of change at cropping-system level. The added value has been to develop a method which enables advisers to learn together from their professional situations, and thus to show the need to investigate how the agent's subjectivity is a key driver of a change intervention.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 29, 2020 - 9:46:04 AM
Last modification on : Monday, November 22, 2021 - 8:16:01 AM

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Marianne Cerf, Marie-Noëlle Guillot, Paul Olry. Acting as a change agent in supporting sustainable agriculture: how to cope with new professional situations?. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2011, 17 (1), pp.7-19. ⟨10.1080/1389224X.2011.536340⟩. ⟨hal-02648514⟩

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