Campus in the Country: Community College Involvement in Rural Community Development
Nelson P Rogers, Community Ingenuity
This study was an investigation into college involvement in rural community development through an examination of three cases in eastern, western and northern Canada where this work was reported to be going well. The cases in this study were in contexts of resource industries in transition, usually related to trends in economic globalization. The communities were also impacted by their distance from urban economic and political centres. As community needs were identified, it was apparent that economic and social challenges were inter-related, and that available opportunities required specialized workforce training or retraining, as well as supports for business development. The inquiry revolved around what colleges do, that is, what kinds of approaches and projects were undertaken, how this work was supported or constrained, how college staff were recruited and trained for this work, and how well it was being done, or how success was defined and evaluated. Although community development activities were not well supported by public policy and programs, the colleges were involved in a wide range of development approaches, some embedded into regular college operations, and others specifically organized for particular purposes. Findings from this study have relevance for policy and program development for colleges as they engage with rural communities, for communities as they seek partners to help address rural challenges, and for federal and provincial government departments and agencies with responsibility for community development, post-secondary education and related fields.
Keywords: community colleges, community development, capital