Agricultural extension, worldwide, faces great challenges and opportunities as itstrives to remain a major force for agricultural transformation in the dynamic era of the 21stcentury. In order to remain sustainable, extension will have to deal with emerging issuessuch as globalization, unprecedented technological advances in information andbiotechnology, major structural change in the agricultural industry, the persistence of foodshortages and yield gaps in the less developed countries, and the global trend towardprivatization. The presentation is undergirded by a theoretical frame that draws from theemerging field of organizational learning and from structural functionalism. Using the toolsof environmental and organizational scans, the presentation explores the challenges andopportunities confronting extension in the dynamic policy and technological environment ofthe 21st century. While acknowledging the role of private sector extension, the presentationcautions against the adoption of a “one-fits-all” solution to resolving extension’s challengeson a globe composed of a diversity of agricultural systems. Relying on historical precedentsand on experience from the private sector, the paper points out the pitfalls inherent in thetechnological determinism, which seems to underlie some of the predictions regarding theimpact of technological advancement on consumer and organizational behavior. Finally, thepaper proposes principles that should undergird extension’ s transformation for the dynamicenvironment of the 21st century.

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