Building Vibrant Rural Futures
The Building Vibrant Rural Futures: Mobilizing Knowledge and Informing Policy Conference invites presentations on how community organizations, policymakers, and researchers are mobilizing knowledge to inform policy and build vibrant rural futures.
The Building Vibrant Rural Futures: Mobilizing Knowledge and Informing Policy Conference will serve as a critical platform to explore a number of subthemes including:
- Local and regional economic development: Rural communities across the country are striving to adapt to the new economy, an economy that is increasingly global, where change can literally happen overnight. We encourage presentations that discuss communities that have reinvented their economies and those that are experiencing economic hardships. We also encourage discussion about new ideas for local and regional economic development including those policies and practices that invest place and build community resilience.
- Labour force development and training: Rural communities across the country are facing new demographic realities like accelerated population aging and youth out-migration which is leading to population decline. However, rapid growth is also occurring in some communities, especially Aboriginal communities in the North. We need to ask how the demographic situation in many rural communities is impacting the rural labour force and whether we are adequately prepared for the new rural economy. We invite examples of best practices and challenges with regards to succession planning, workforce development programs, and skills training initiatives by businesses, policymakers and community organizations.
- Climate change and the impacts on rural communities infrastructure, economies, and lifestyles: The impacts of climate change on rural communities is a reality affecting built systems, natural systems, and human systems. Bold ideas are needed to adapt to and mitigate these impacts including rising temperatures, melting sea ice, and more frequent and intense storms, floods, and droughts. We welcome examples from research, policy and practice on a range of topics including climate change adaptation, planning, and challenges.
- Rural data, information, and harnessing digital data: Rural communities face increasing pressure and need to leverage limited resources for the most impact. At the same time, citizen demand is growing for greater transparency in public decision-making. As a result, rural communities cannot afford to make planning decisions on intuition about what seems to have worked in the past, by “buying in” to the latest fads, or making a best guess at the most significant opportunities and challenges facing a community. Planners, policy makers and economic developers in rural communities must take advantage of the most useful sources of data to inform strategic planning and community leaders in making sound decisions.
Related to this, accessing current information and participating in today’s knowledge-based economy is imperative for rural communities. But many rural communities are finding this difficult without access to affordable high-speed broadband. High-speed broadband can enable access to educational opportunities, health care interventions, smart grid applications and global business opportunities. But access is not enough. It is equally important to ensure that uptake and usage of high-speed Internet is also taking place and is more than just sending emails. We invite presentations that showcase best practices and innovative examples of how rural communities, businesses and organizations are meeting these challenges. We also encourage presentations that showcase how rural communities are leveraging data and research for evidence-based planning, priority-setting and outcome measurement for community and economic development.
- Aboriginal transformations/issues: Aboriginal peoples face challenges in all regions across the country, but there are also historic opportunities being realized because of efforts and changes going on within Aboriginal communities. We invite explorations on how Aboriginal peoples are responding to challenges and building on opportunities through political action, economic and social development, and cultural resilience in rural communities.
Within each subtheme, we encourage presenters to discuss opportunities for knowledge mobilization and how their ideas can inform rural policy and practice.