Rural development is an interdisciplinary and inter-cultural field, which calls for a variety of skills and competences, including managerial, technical, scientific and social ones. An animator of rural development needs to understand the basic requirements and speak the “language” of the different disciplines (such as agriculture, environmental science, social welfare, SME development, innovation, rural tourism, diversification of rural economy etc) but does not need to be an expert in all these. Moreover, the rural animator needs certain communication, problem solving and managerial skills to perform his/her tasks.
The depth of understanding of rural development issues and the diversity of skills and competences required to perform the profession of rural animator makes it necessary to launch a new programme of study, at post-graduate level. A review of post-graduate programmes offered across Europe on academic fields that are close to the above requirements, has shown that there is a gap in the academic “market” today regarding the education of rural animators. Although there is a large number of post-graduate courses, mostly at M.A or M.Sc level, related to different aspects of rural development, they tend to focus on one or a few only of the competencies required for a professional rural animator. The review of post-graduate programmes has also provided useful insights regarding the pedagogy, delivery methods, structure and accreditation standards, which will be used to compose the curriculum and profile of EMRA.