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dc.contributor.authorPobst, Gloria Ferguson
dc.description.abstractRural communities in the United States matter. As stewards of natural resources, producers of high-quality food and fiber, and options to urban overcrowding, rural communities’ differences negate “one size fits all” prescriptions for economic development. This study addressed the problem of U.S. rural decline and how community members learned to revitalize. Informed by Wenger’s communities of practice theory (1998) and its key concepts of identity, boundary processes, and levels of participation, the purpose of this research was to understand how community members learned to revitalize their rural town and what facilitated or blocked learning for revitalization. A case study concerning one small community in the southeastern U.S. undergoing revitalization, this study generated data over a two-year period using ethnographic methods of participant observation, document review, informal conversations, and in-depth interviews. Participants included city residents, business owners, and local government officials, as well as county residents and business owners with current and former connections to the community. The research led to three conclusions: (1) community members learned about revitalization in groups constituting communities of practice designed to implement rural community revitalization projects with informal, incidental, and tacit learning in virtual work spaces; (2) rural entrepreneurs’ business operations intertwined with community economic development; and (3) rural community revitalization required leadership to develop and nurture communities of practice, as well as civic leadership to direct an overall plan, protect citizens and property, and maintain order. Small towns with few resources, especially financial resources, benefit from identification of all assets including human talents which can be mobilized toward revitalization projects. An implication from this study is that rural policy should focus on small business development, community development, and leadership capacity development to benefit the majority of rural citizens. Future suggested research includes case studies with different rural contexts focused on learning, action research, and evaluation of learning interventions to foster learning and positive change in rural communities.
dc.subjectRural Community Revitalization
dc.subjectCommunities of Practice
dc.subjectRural Entrepreneurship
dc.subjectAdult Learning
dc.subjectCase Study
dc.subjectEthnographic Methods
dc.titleLearning for revitalization
dc.title.alternativeexplorations of rural communities of practice
dc.description.departmentLifelong Education, Administration, and Policy
dc.description.majorAdult Education
dc.description.advisorLorilee R. Sandmann
dc.description.committeeLorilee R. Sandmann
dc.description.committeeAliki Nicolaides
dc.description.committeeRichard McCline
dc.description.committeeKathleen deMarrais

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