The Role of Agricultural Colleges in Modern Society


The University as an Instrument in Social and Economic Development

By Frithjof Kuhnen

Among the most important institutions in the revolutionary development of agriculture over the last 50 years are the colleges of agriculture2. As brain center for agricultural progress, they provided with their research efforts the scientific knowledge base, their training increased the quality of the human agent of production, and in many cases, their extension activities brought new knowledge down to the peasant.

In spite of all the contributions made by agricultural colleges in recent times, there is a growing discussion on the role of colleges of agriculture in modern society which, so far, culminated in the World Conference on Agricultural Education and Training, organized by the United Nations at Copenhagen, and in its follow-up meetings. There seems to be an increasing awareness that the changes in agriculture and the requirements of a modern economy require certain adaptions in the understanding of agricultural colleges as to the role they have to play.

In order to reassess the role of agricultural colleges in modern society, we will first elaborate on the two main determinants for the role of agricultural colleges, i.e. the role of agriculture and the role of universities in modern society. On this basis, conclusions will be drawn on the teaching and research activities of colleges of agriculture needed to meet the requirements of today.