Identifying Rural Research Priorities Through Community Engagement


Dr. W.J. Caldwell, Professor,
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
University of Guelph


Yoland Chan, Harold Fleming, Jeff Dixon, Erik Lockhart, Jennifer Ball, Suzanne Ainley


The Monieson Centre, Queen’s School of Business
The Ontario Rural Council

executive summary
Research has the potential to identify information, create knowledge and contribute to timely solutions and policy options that can fundamentally address key societal issues. Rural regions are often limited in their capacity to conduct research. This proposed research will implement a methodology that engages community and organizational representatives in a systematic dialogue that will help to identify rural research needs from a community and organization perspective. The outcome of this research will provide baseline community input on critical community research issues and questions that can form the basis of much needed relevant rural research in the outgoing years. This will help government and policy makers better understand what is happening at the local/regional level in Ontario.

This research brings together researchers from the University of Guelph with researchers from The Monieson Centre at Queen’s University. Key partners will also include The Ontario Rural Council and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The research will focus on community engagement sessions in Central and Southwestern Ontario and the results will be integrated with existing research results from Eastern Ontario (through prior consultations led by The Monieson Centre) and Northern Ontario (through Northern Growth Plan consultations).

The research will be completed within a year and will include 8-12 community and organization discovery workshops.

There will be two key deliverables. A report will be prepared documenting rural research needs from the perspective of community members and organizations. The research will also test and refine a methodology for conducting community consultations and will evaluate the benefits of this approach.
goals and objectives
  • To host focused and innovative community discovery workshops to gather input from stakeholders, organizations and citizens concerning the research needs of rural communities. The workshops will:
    • Identify knowledge needs and resources
    • Prioritize research needs and opportunities
    • Share experience and knowledge
    • Build lasting relationships and communication channels
  • To develop a provincial perspective by integrating results from Central and Southwestern Ontario with existing research results from Eastern Ontario (through prior consultations led by The Monieson Centre) and Northern Ontario (through Northern Growth Plan consultations)
  • To evaluate the approach to the workshops as a means to secure stakeholder, organization and citizen input