Integration of PID into university curricula

As a component of Prolinnova activities, partners have chosen curriculum development and the integration of Participatory Innovation Development (PID) approaches in higher education systems as a specific area of attention. This commitment was first emphasised during the International Partners’ Workshop (IPW) in Cambodia in March 2006, where the Centre for International Cooperation of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (CIS-VUA), then one of the partners in the Prolinnova International Support Team (IST), was asked to conceptualise this issue further and facilitate the development of a curriculum development component under Prolinnova.

The aim of the Curriculum Development (CD) component of Prolinnova is to address one of the most critical weaknesses in Higher Educational Institutes (HEI) curricula today: current teaching of agriculture and natural resource management (NRM) fails to provide students with the necessary skills and sensitivities to contribute creatively to farmers' and natural resource users' own innovation systems. Many curricula in HEIs in developing countries are outdated, inflexible and largely irrelevant to current socio-economic needs that address local people’s creativity and ability to find their own solutions. The CD component tries to address these issues by influencing higher education policies and practices and facilitating ways in which teachers and curriculum developers can meet and learn from each other.

A selection of the major achievements:

  • Development of a Prolinnova concept note on Curriculum Development (click here);
  • Partner discussions about CD at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 IPW (for minutes of the discussion at the 2008 IPM, click here);
  • Sharing ideas and best practices among Prolinnova partners, mostly in Africa and Asia, through the Prolinnova listserve;
  • Development of a full proposal to obtain funding for the CD component under the European Union EDULINK programme. The proposal was not accepted, so funds are still being sought. The proposed - 'PROMOTED' (Promoting Participation and Innovation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Education) -  aims to stimulate and improve innovation systems in agriculture and NRM, with the specific objective to develop curricula that promote participation and innovation in agriculture and NRM through sustainable learning networks. Click here for the full proposal.
  • First workshop on CD held in March 2009 in Uganda, involving partners from the Prolinnova platforms in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. This workshop provided an opportunity for face-to-face sharing of lessons and best practices in integrating PID approaches into agricultural education and training curricula.The major output was a framework course on Participatory Approaches in Agricultural and NRM focusing on PID methodology. A CD Working Group (CDWG) was formed to lead the CD team.
  • Formulation of a founding statement of the Community of Practice for PID in Higher Education.