Researcher: Prof. Uri Marchaim
PoliRural has a simple, if ambitious, objective - to make rural places and professions more attractive for established rural populations and recent or potential newcomers. The emphasis on more means there is plenty of room for improvement. Indeed, although some rural areas represent the most prosperous and well performing areas in the country, others are experiencing depopulation, demographic ageing, high levels of poverty and land abandonment.
PoliRural was created in response to the need for a more strategic approach to rural development. It is about rural development that encompasses the diversity of rural life, places and professions, about decision making that is based on evidence of how current policies are performing and what the impact of new measures might be, about sourcing policy intelligence from a wider range of sources, about making rural policy processes more participatory by giving voice to the concerns of excluded groups e.g. women, migrants, young people, new entrants.
The strategic, forward-looking policy framework is developed to provide a well-rounded understanding of change, of how it is happening in the world, how it will play out in the 12 study areas, and how local/regional policy decisions can leverage it for the benefit of grassroot communities.
The project starts with an investigation of rural situation, or rurality, in the selected regions by identifying current needs, existing policy measures and stakeholder experiences with these measures (evaluation). This will be achieved by combining traditional survey research with advanced text mining techniques that so far have found little application in rural policy making. Evaluation results will highlight areas for improvement on the basis of which improved measures can be co-developed. That is the aim of design thinking task which marks the start of stage two - ‘future outlook.’ Other tasks in this stage (modelling by experts, validation by rural stakeholders) proceed iteratively to deliver insights into the evolution of 12 study regions under the proposed policies, different scenarios and drivers of change. After that, pilots will enter the third and final stage of the project that is mission oriented innovation. The aim here is to use modelling outcomes to develop region-specific missions that are bold and ambitious but not to the point where they become near impossible to execute. In keeping with the spirit of mission oriented approach, local action plans will be co-created by pilots in close consultation with rural stakeholders to design effective place-based and citizen-centric missions for their areas.