Utah State University is bringing their expertise in extension programs to the international stage.
Steve Daniels, a Utah State University Extension community development specialist, recently returned from Ghana where he participated in setting up the Taking the University to the Grassroots program.
The program is a partnership between the Danish International Development Agency, the University of Copenhagen and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. It seeks to improve the living conditions of two targeted Ghanaian communities, Afamaso and Kenyasi, by setting up a rural development extension program.
"I proposed that they think about having faculty permanently posted in some of these rural districts, exactly like we do having extension agents in counties around the state," said Daniels. "That basic model had never really occurred to them."
The program focuses on asset-based community development. This style of community development takes inventory of the assets already available in the community and mobilizes and repurposes the assets to create jobs and increase the standard of living.
"Asset-based community development is quite well-suited to the situation in Ghana because their list of deficits is huge as well, but they've got talent and they've got indigenous plants and they've got water and they've got access to land and they've got an entrepreneurial spirit," said Daniels. "And if you can figure out how to repurpose and mobilize those, the communities themselves own their own development agenda.
Daniels also said there may be a permanent future for USU on the project with possible student exchanges and bringing more extension-system expertise to the Ghanaian communities.
Taylor is a senior at Utah State University, majoring in Communication Studies and Liberal Arts.