As the largest adult education institution in America, Cooperative Extension should ground organizational operations in adult education theory. This connection with theory is especially important as Extension systems work towards organizational transformation to create more participatory and democratic learning. Adult education theories of transformative learning and critical reflection from a critical theory perspective are especially pertinent to inform this type of transformation. This requires that Extension create opportunities for learners to experience disorienting dilemmas, critically reflect on their assumptions, and facilitate how to learn not just what to learn.

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