President's Report 2007

Rural-minded Grenfell professor initiates research centre

Dr. Ivan Emke

With recent Statistics Canada data recording a population decline in rural municipalities, it was only a matter of time before well-known Sir Wilfred Grenfell College professor Ivan Emke turned his attention to the issue.

Early in 2006 the professor of social/cultural studies began researching the feasibility of establishing a rural research centre, under the working title Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities.

Dr. Emke and a research assistant met and interviewed people knowledgeable in the area of rural sustainability and economic development – people from tourism associations, development boards, business organizations, educational institutions and municipal officials.

“We needed to know not only how such an institute could be supported, but more importantly, what research it would conduct and how it would fill the research gaps that currently exist,” said Dr. Emke. “We needed to know, from the experts – from rural community residents and development workers – what issues we could be researching.”

Seeking greater feedback on the concept, Dr. Emke also conducted workshops with local residents and professionals, and also drew on the expertise of David Bruce, director of the Rural and Small Town Program at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.