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2011 / 12 Research Opportunity
2012 - CLOSED
“Doing Rural Development in the Economic Down"
The Arkleton Trust is currently engaging with several practitioners and researchers who wish to promote, and possibly research, an emerging issue concerning rural areas. The Arkleton Trust invited expressions of interest from those wishing to develop proposals which will help to determine the future theme(s), on which the Trust will focus its efforts for 2 – 3 years from 2013.
The Arkleton Trust was founded in 1977 “to study new approaches to rural development and education” and “improve understanding between rural policy makers, academics, practitioners and rural people”. It has a long history of supporting national and international approaches to rural development policy and practice and encouraging the sharing of experience and knowledge gained, with the particular aim of assisting and promoting rural development in the poorer and developing countries around the world. Recently, the Trust has focussed its activities around key themes of international concern and relevance, using its limited resources to identify and analyse the particular impacts for rural communities. For the past few years, the Trust has had a programme of activity around the issue of climate change and how rural communities in different parts of the world are affected and are adapting to its impacts.
The Trust is now looking at what issue/issues it should focus on for the next funding period, commencing in 2013. It has considered several possibilities, including further work on the issue of climate change, in the context of the opportunities this presents for rural communities, or the new area of the role of social networking in rural areas in enabling better communication and breaking down barriers. However, much work is already being carried out on these issues and both are subjects of a fast moving agenda. The Trust has not found a clear role or niche for its intervention in either issue.
At the same time, it is aware that there are now other emerging issues, in particular around the important question of the implications for rural development policy and practice of the global economic downturn and the reduction of the role of the State and the increasing reliance on local communities to ‘fend for themselves’, not just in the UK, but more generally. This is an area on which the Trust believes it could usefully add value and should focus in the future.
The Trust has, therefore, decided to open up the process for identifying future themes, within this broad area of interest, and to invite ideas to help it determine what these might be and where it should focus its efforts.
Expressions of interest – Stage One – closed January 2012
As a first step, the Trust invited expressions of interest from individuals who wished to identify a key emerging theme (or themes) of importance to rural communities and used this as the basis for developing proposals for the Trust’s future work. These expressions of interest set out the possible theme to be developed; why it was relevant at this time; the key potential issues for rural communities; and the suggested focus for the Trust. The expression of interest also included a budget for developing the proposal in more detail. As part of the next stage (Stage 2, see below), the Trust made available up to £1000 each for successful candidates to help the development stage.
Developing more detailed proposals – Stage Two – February to July 2012 - Completed
Having considered all the expressions of interest submitted under Stage One, the Trust selected 8-10 of the ideas suggested, which it wanted to see worked up in more detail.
The detailed proposals will take the form of short reports to an agreed format, suitable for publication on the Arkleton Trust’s website, and should be submitted to the Trust by end July 2012 (now received).
Deciding on the theme(s) – Stage Three – November 2012 - Completed
The Trust has selected 3 of the projects to present their ideas and reasons for their proposals at the Trust’s biennial seminar to be held in Scotland in November 2012. The seminar is one in a regular series held by the Trust to discuss issues concerning rural development. In the past, such seminars have attracted participants from around the world, including academics, practitioners, policy-makers, as well as past Fellows supported by the Trust and Trustees themselves. It is the intention to use the seminar as the basis for determining the future theme for the Trust to pursue, and its particular focus, for the period beginning in early 2013.
Emerging themes – some principles
The Trust does not wish to be prescriptive and is interested in the ideas forthcoming, but those wishing to participate will need to bear in mind the following principles:
- Suggestions for themes should not simply identify problems, but should also highlight opportunities and be solution focussed.
- Themes should be relevant to rural areas more generally, not just to one area or part of the world.
- Proposals should be of interest to academics, policy-makers and practitioners.
- Themes, which have been identified by others and where work may already be in hand, are not excluded, but proposals need to identify the particular areas of interest to the Trust and where its intervention could make a difference (for example, ensuring a rural dimension to something focussed mainly on the urban environment). The Trust is happy to work in partnership with others and would welcome suggestions for where this might happen.
- It is intended that the successful theme will be selected and scope and nature of the Trust’s involvement developed in more detail at the seminar in November 2012, with the help of the author and those present, before being launched early in 2013.
- There is no commitment to take forward work on the successful theme, with those who have helped develop it, beyond the seminar in November 2012. However, the Trust would not rule out the possibility of commissioning some further work, if that were felt appropriate.