News Release

REF NO.: 39

SUBJECT: Rural development work needs to be more solution focused

DATE: October 2, 2014

A new report commissioned by Memorial University’s Harris Centre suggests that regional and rural development needs to move from identifying problems to creating real solutions for communities, and that Memorial University is uniquely positioned to help that work.

Dr. Ivan Emke, associate professor, social and cultural studies, and facilitator for internationalization, Grenfell Campus, and Anita Best, community co-ordinator, Community-University Research for Recovery Alliance, authored the report, the latest in a series of thematic reports commissioned by the Harris Centre. The authors explored the theme of rural and regional development by examining events, funded research and other activities sponsored by the centre for the past decade.

“Without a doubt, regional and rural development has been an enduring thread of discussion and debate throughout this province, in coffee shops, on wharves and during numerous consultations and public events,” said Dr. Emke. “It is a topic that threads through communities, industry, non-governmental organizations and all levels of government. Therefore, continued collaboration, idea-sharing and partnerships between all those parties are critical.”

The authors note that Memorial University is uniquely positioned to continue to further regional and rural development in the province. As Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university, Memorial carries a responsibility to the province, part of which includes supporting regional and rural development through the work of the Harris Centre and the work of Memorial researchers in helping find practical solutions for communities.

 “Regions and rural areas need help with solutions, not just problem identification,” said Dr. Emke. “It’s one thing to know for sure what is going on – we now need to focus on evaluating opportunities for change, and that is perhaps the true challenge.”

Dr. Emke and Ms. Best also identified specific aspects of regional and rural development that may benefit from a more concerted approach, including social enterprise, rural services (schools, churches, and service groups) and their function in sustaining communities, municipal governance and inter-community collaborations, Aboriginal communities and groups, immigration, social and cultural costs of mega-projects, alternate sources of energy, sustainable small-scale agriculture and civic engagement.

The report is one of five commissioned by the Harris Centre, in recognition of its 10th anniversary. The series of reports assess what significant issues the province has faced during the past decade and what issues can be anticipated in the next. These reports will form the basis of discussion at NL Forum 2014, a two-day conference hosted by the Harris Centre from Nov. 4-5.

The two remaining reports, focusing on governance and public policy and environment and natural resources, will be released in the coming weeks leading up to NL Forum 2014.

To read Dr. Emke’s report, to find out more information on NL Forum 2014 and to register for the conference, please visit mun.ca/harriscentre/nlforum.

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