International Perspectives on Current Issues in Rural Policy

Rural policy is frequently concerned with processes of development and transformation. This almost by definition necessitates a broad overview, specifically an international perspective. In an ever more connected world and faced with increasingly complex challenges, the question of what exactly can bring such development forward, and what benefits rural communities, appears of a very pressing nature.

Rural sites are often socially constructed as the opposite of urban, and are not presumed to be carriers of innovation.

The opposite, though, is oftentimes the case: when visiting key rural communities, innovation in several areas such as energy production, food safety and food security, environmental protection, and innovations in the realm of civic society, can all be frequently witnessed.

A group of faculty from Europe and North America inaugurated the series of summer institutes that now makes up what is called “ICRPS,” the International Comparative Rural Policy Studies Summer Institute. Since 2004, students and faculty have come together in summer to undergo an extensive program of classroom workshops, field trips, and research presentations in order to investigate the specific local approaches to pressing questions of rural policy in a broader and international context.

The OSU Student Delegation in Mexico

The field school has been to locations in Mexico, Italy, Quebec, Norway, Oregon, Scotland, Missouri, Catalonia, Manitoba, Belgium and Ontario.

Frequent issues under discussion have been biomass, quality and versatility of food production, food safety, tourism, development in general, labor markets and migrations, demographic changes, amongst others.

In 2014, a mixed group of faculty and students from the Masters and PhD program in Public Policy have traveled to Toluca, Mexico, to meet faculty and students from several European and North American countries to conduct joint field trips and partake in classroom discussions on the specific challenges and opportunities of Mexico’s rural policy framework. 2015 saw a visit to Ireland.

in 2016, the program will take place in Alaska.

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