Burton E. Swanson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Presentation given at MEAS GLEE on June 6, 2012: 

Developing Innovative Extension Systems to help Small-scale Men and Women Farmers


Burton E. Swanson’s international career now spans 50 years, starting as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cyprus in 1962.  After working as the Agriculture Officer in Peace Corps Washington, he completed his M.S. degree in International Agricultural Development at University of California at Davis and then he served as the first training officer at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, working closely with Norman Borlaug, Father of the Green Revolution. He then completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 1974 where he conducted a comparative analysis of CIMMYT and IRRI’s training programs. 

Swanson joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1975 and has had an exemplary career in the field of International Agriculture and Rural Development. He was the originator of the International Program for Agricultural Knowledge Systems (INTERPAKS) at UIUC in 1982 and has worked in more than 40 developing countries and trained more than 400 extension officials from over 35 countries as part of the INTERPAKS effort.  He was the founding president of the International Association of Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in 1984 and has written/edited many FAO extension books, plus many other refereed papers and conference presentations.  His most recent book was published by the World Bank in March 2010 on Strengthening Agricultural Extension and Advisory Systems. 


In addition to these many publications, Swanson has designed and/or supervised major World Bank extension projects in Asia (i.e. China, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka).  Most recently, he designed and is now helping implement the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Service (MEAS) project. During Swanson’s career, he has received many awards and recognitions; the latest was the “lifetime achievement award” given to Swanson by the International Society of Extension Education (INSEE) at their first International Conference in Goa, India during 2008.

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