Current Newsletter: Spring 2015

New projects and reports


Rural Studies Program Director Bruce Weber and Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Mallory Rahe are both working with faculty from the University of Idaho on a new USDA grant focusing on developing proactive actions for small rural regions which will foster economic resilience against challenges in the face of a historic economic downturn, global economic pressures, and an ongoing economic restructuring of the national economy. This research intends to quantitatively measure the economic resilience of each county in the United States and then estimate what community specific factors relate to increased economic resilience. This research will employ a community capitals framework for measuring regional community wealth and isolate the marginal effects of each type of community capital on economic resilience. This research will also investigate the role of community wealth distribution, rather than just the total wealth endowment, on economic resilience. This funding will also be used to build the capacity of rural communities in Eastern Oregon and Idaho to think more strategically about economic development opportunities, to use data and market analysis in their decisions, and to track the efficacy of economic development investment decisions.

New Report - Oregon Hunger Report

Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Mark Edwards has just published “Hunger in Oregon during a Slow Recovery (2011-2013).” This analysis shows that during the slow recovery from the Great Recession, single mothers and renters in Oregon remained more vulnerable to hunger than single mothers and renters in the US as a whole. As in our earlier reports, we note that about one fourth of renter households struggling with hunger were single mothers and virtually all single mother households struggling with hunger were renters. The low income status of single mothers is implied by this high rental rate. But the Oregon “penalty” for renters in general is not the result of high rates of single motherhood. Affordability of rental housing for all families appears to influence the greater vulnerability of renters in Oregon. The report is available at -

 Multnomah County Economic Opportunity Symposium

 On Friday, May 29, 2015, an Economic Opportunity Symposium was held in Portland to explore the extent of poverty in Multnomah County and the prospects of collaborative community efforts to reduce poverty. Speakers included national and regional experts, local government officials and people working with low-income populations. RSP Director Bruce Weber was invited to discuss the CAPO Indicators Project that he and RSP Affiliate Melissa Torgerson are implementing with the Community Action Partnership of Oregon and the local community action agencies in Oregon

OECD Rural Development Policy Conference

 Rural Studies Program Director Bruce Weber was invited to participate in the the 10th Annual OECD Rural Development Policy Conference that took place on 19–21 May, 2015 in Memphis, TN. He also  presented a paper at the workshop on “The Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus: An Emerging Challenge for Rural Policy” that was organized by the Rural Policy Research Institute as a pre-session to the Conference. The presentation “Environmental Protection Policy and Rural Community Wealth: A US Case Study” was based on a paper co-authored with RSP Faculty Affiliate Yong Chen and David Lewis.

The conference “National Prosperity through Modern Rural Policy: Competitiveness and well-being in rural regions” was hosted by the White House Rural Council with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mexico’s Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development.

This conference marked the 10th meeting of the world’s leading policy officials, international experts and representatives from the private sector for discussing best practices for rural areas. This meeting took stock of the evolution and progress made in rural development since the first conference held in 2002.

The conference gathered together a wide range of leading international and national experts on rural development. Building upon the New Rural Paradigm framework; Promoting Growth in all Regions; and Rural-Urban Partnerships, policy makers and high-level officials both from OECD and non-OECD countries discussed modern rural policies, and how the implementation of such policies contributes to national growth and well-being.

Upcoming Events

Regards to Rural

RDI, in partnership with Oregon State University Rural Studies Program and Extension Service, present the Regards to Rural 2015 conference, Navigating the Rivers of Change: Rural Communities in Transition. After two successful conferences at OSU in Corvallis, this year’s Regards to Rural will be held at the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center in Bend, Oregon.

Confirmed 2015 keynote speakers are Roger Brooks, tourism and downtown development expert, Shanna Ratner, Principal of Yellow Wood Associates, Inc., and Lisa Mensah, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development. The conference will include effective skill-building sessions, access to rural resources, and opportunities to network with others who are passionate about making sustainable changes in their rural communities. Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Mallory Rahe will be presenting on - Getting to Vitality: Insights from Research and Your Lived Experience.  More information on the conference is available at

 ICRPS (International Comparative Rural Policies Studies) Summer Institute

The Twelfth International Comparative Rural Policy Studies (ICRPS) Summer Institute will take place in Ireland from the 22nd June to the 6th July, 2015. The ICRPS Summer Institutes are held in North America and Europe in alternating years. The 2015 Summer Institute will be held in Dublin and Galway, Ireland, hosted by University College Dublin; Teagasc - the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority; and the National University of Ireland, Galway.  In addition to sending students from Oregon State, Rural Studies Program Director Bruce Weber and Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Brent Steel are on the faculty for the Institute.

 Annual Meetings of the Regional Science Association International to be held in Portland

 The North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) is a group of international Regional Science organizations that, together, promote the exchange of knowledge, theory, and analysis of cities and regions across the globe. NARSC represents the interests of regional scientists in North America, and is a founding member of the Regional Association of the Americas. The annual conference, to be held in Portland, OR in November 2015, is structured around a number of thematically-focused sessions during which regional scientists present their work. The typical format involves four consecutive 20-minute scholarly presentations, followed by comments and critique offered by the appointed discussant, and questions and answers from the audience. The conference also incorporates discussion panels on timely topics of Regional Science. The deadline to submit a paper topic in June 22nd. More information is available at

Sustainability of Well-Being International Forum

Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Brent Steel is one of the organizers for the Sustainability of Well-Being International Forum – 2015 edition “Food for Sustainability and not just Food.” The conference will focus on a multidisciplinary approach for the analysis of well-being sustainability in relation to the food sector and it will be held in Florence on 4-6 June 2015. More information is available at

 OSU Rural Studies and other rural classes

RSP Director Bruce Weber is currently teaching RS/AREC 421/521- Economics of Rural Poverty and the US Social Safety Net, on-line only through e-campus.

RSP Faculty Affiliate Mallory Rahe is currently teaching AREC 454/554 – Rural Development Economics and Policy.

RSP Faculty Affiliate Sarah Cunningham is currently teaching RS 513 – Contemporary Rural Issues.

Oregon State University - Ethnographic Field School (ANTH 460/560)

The Oregon State University Anthropology Department will offer the 2015 Ethnographic Field School, open to undergrads and grads (on-campus and Ecampus) from any major. This year's field school will focus on the resilience of rural Oregon communities and the ways they respond to the outside forces that affect them. Using Corvallis as our home base, we will spend time in three nearby communities so that we can compare and contrast the issues, opportunities, and challenges relevant in each.

Through this field school, you will learn about and develop practical skills for operating in different social and cultural contexts. As individuals and in teams, you will engage in such activities as participant observation and ethnographic interviewing, as well as mapping, how to write field notes and transcribe themes, and how to present findings effectively. The tools and approaches you'll learn about and practice in this field school are a valuable complement to lots of other research styles as well as a stand-alone strategy for learning about societies and their cultures, about people and their ways of life.

To sign up for the field school, you must submit an application by June 10, 2015. You'll then be contacted with additional details about the field school and instructions on how to register for the appropriate section. If you have questions about the field school or need help registering, please contact Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Sarah Cunningham at or 541-737-1304.

In the News

Rural Studies Program Director Bruce Weber was featured in an article in the Albany Democrat Herald on the Rural Urban Gap in Oregon.

Rural Studies Program Director Bruce Weber was quoted in an article in the High Country News on how rural counties are dealing with the loss of federal money.

Rural Studies Program Faculty Affiliate Mark Edwards was featured in an OPB piece on Oregon’s hunger problems.

Follow us on Facebook

The Rural Studies Program is on Facebook!  We are using this forum of social media to advertise recent and upcoming events and encourage community members to post questions or comments. This is yet another way to engage with the Rural Studies Program at Oregon State University. Join us at:



Fall 2013