This paper presents a philosophical argument for the institutionalization of appreciative approaches in extension programs. Such institutionalization would influence the negative discourse often directed toward the extension discipline. An Appreciative Inquiry approach offers an alternative, constructionist method to guide extension practitioners to envision a robust, positive future. Specific references are made to the perceptions of South Africans toward extension to anchor the pessimistic view. Public extension has been overly criticized in the agricultural development discipline for being irrelevant, nonfocused, and least beneficial to clients. Many blamed actors in extension for being complacent and incompetent. Yet, others perceived the challenging demands on extension as opportune for innovative reforms in strategy and approach. The paper argues that top-down approaches used in extension locate immense responsibility on practitioners to resolve development problems, thus limiting its chances for success. The resultant failure in approaches used is publicly perceived as failure of Extension.Three possible factors drive the pessimistic view. First, institutions of Extension tend to be narrowly perceived as useful to rural farm households. They overlook the heterogeneous character of communities, and their diverse survival strategies. Second, Extension approaches locate agenda-setting powers in the hands of the intervener, not the client. Last, extension interventions tend to be problem focused, often advancing problem modes of thinking. A shift in paradigm toward appreciative modes of probing, planning, and intervention for sustainable development is called for. This paper concludes with a pro-appreciative inquiry rationale for consideration by extension practitioners as they heed the call for Extension renewal.
Keywords: extension renewal, extension approaches, appreciative inquiry, new paradigm