CRD 20    —    CRD 142    —    CRD 244    —    GEO 200C


CRD 142: Rural Change in the Industrialized World

[R]ural development policy needs to be more than just an arm of agricultural support ... [It] should be primarily about facilitating the viability of rural areas, enhancing the well-being of local people and good management of land in which agriculture and forestry have a role to play.

— Dimitris Diakosavvas (2006: 15-16)

The objective of the course is to help students understand a range of important social, environmental, and agricultural issues in rural areas in the industrialized world.  We give special emphasis to recent transformations in rural areas, commonly referred to as “rural restructuring,” and to the idea and practice of sustainable development.  Changes in rural areas of industrialized countries commonly consists of rural industrialization, an influx of migrants from urban areas to rural areas in some areas and continued depopulation in other areas, the shift from primary production to increased employment in services and alternative economic activities, devolution of governance to the local level, strengthened environmental protection, and a movement of productivist agriculture toward direct sales, agri-tourism, ecological entrepreneurship, and other strategies. 

The four sections of the course examine (1) contemporary rural restructuring and many important processes contributing to contemporary rural change in industrialized nations in light of sustainable development; (2) the profound changes that have occurred and that are currently occurring in agriculture and agro-food systems; (3) the relationship between society and environment in rural areas, including environmental conservation, environmental governance, alternative energy, and environmental justice; and (4) responses to rural restructuring, including policy, planning, and development in rural areas.

I teach the course from the perspective of the social sciences, especially human geography and rural sociology.  Comparative examples are drawn largely from North America, but include cases from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.


Diakosavvas, Dimitris, ed. 2006. Coherence of agricultural and rural development policies. Paris: OECD.

Course Materials

winter 2010




Mind Map



Multimedia Project

Team Research Project


Outline - Part 1

Draft - Part 2

Peer Review - Part 3

Presentation - Part 4

Final Report - Part 5

Internal Peer Evaluation - Part 6