Summer 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 2 // Forum // 2FRM1

Previous Article Issue Contents Previous Article

Moving Toward a Global Perspective


Emily S. Wiggins
Extension Family Life Specialist
Cooperative Extension Service
Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina

Does the Cooperative Extension Service in your state have a mission with a global perspective? Does it reflect interdependency among citizens of the world?

I knew that in 1973 the 4-H pledge was expanded to include "service to the world," but I wasn't sure the rest of the Extension Service was keeping in step. To find out, I zeroed in on a definition of the word "mission," developed a hierarchy of Extension missions, and analyzed 33 state mission statements. First, exactly what is a mission?

Mission Defined

A mission statement is a verbal commitment to the specific task with which the person or group is charged. It's visionary, thus can never be fully achieved; but it sets the direction for and eventually determines the worth of an organization. Even though an organization rarely reaches or moves beyond its mission, wise leaders know that without an agreed-on overall direction not much of importance will ever be achieved. Can mission statements be evaluated?

A Hierarchy of Missions

I arranged state Extension missions in an order combining levels of knowledge and levels of value. The hierarchy seemed logical. It established valid goals directed toward aims of greater or lesser nobility, with number five being least noble and number one most noble.

Motivating people to improve the community, state, and nation is superior to motivating people to help themselves, and I defined the highest level as helping people work toward the well-being of all world citizens.

The Extension Service, like our nation, is part of an interconnected globe full of people. We must program from the world view. This means that instead of motivating clientele to ask, "What can I do about

Table 1. Hierarchy of Extension missions.

N is the number of states having this as their highest level.

N Levels in hierarchy of Extension mission recognition
5 1 - To give out information to help people improve the quality of life for all humankind.
4 2 - To give out information to help people understand international issues.
18 3 - To give out information to help people improve the quality of life for other people in their own community, state, and nation (citizenship).
4 4 - To give out information to help people improve the quality of their own lives (self-help).
2 5 - To give out information.

The missions with global perspective that reported authoring dates were written in 1984 or later. Congratulations to the writers of the mission statements or goals and objectives that fall into the highest category, for in this work they're leading Extension toward a worldwide view.


Extension missions, objectives, and/or goals should refer not only to helping people help themselves, but also to helping people improve the quality of life for mankind generally. A caring, global perspective is the concept that places a mission on the highest level of the mission hierarchy. The Cooperative Extension Service in your state can broaden its mission and conduct local programs with global perspectives. You may want to analyze your state mission according to the hierarchy, then set about developing programs in your county to help move us all toward a global perspective.