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Literature Review


The Regional Solutions for Rural and Urban Challenges project hypothesizes that regional collaboration and solution-seeking can be an effective way of improving social and economic opportunity and health for all people and places within a region. Specifically, it aims to identify and curate examples of policy and practice that promote boundary-crossing, and multi-sector solutions to regional challenges while advancing opportunity, health, and well-being without leaving behind rural areas, low-income people, and people of color. Regional Solutions intends to provide a counterpoint to the prevailing narrative of growing divisions between rural and urban populations. These occur along economic, social, cultural, and political lines, often supported by simplistic and misinformed ideas about daily lives across the spectrum from remote rural to dense urban places.

The project’s research process is designed to answer the following questions:

What are examples of policy and practice that promote boundary-crossing, multi-sector solutions to the above-stated regional challenges?

  • How effective are these examples? Who are the main players and beneficiaries? What are the important contextual characteristics? What is innovative? How replicable are they? How can they be improved? What is next?

What lessons can be taken from these examples that can be replicated elsewhere or at least inform policy and practice more generally? Specifically:

  • What are the conditions that make a regional collaboration and solution-seeking approach most effective in improving social and economic outcomes?
  • Where there is a strong regional collaboration and solution-seeking apparatus in place, what contribution has this made to improved social and economic conditions?

This literature review is the first part of a five-stage research process that framed and guided stakeholder interviews, location selection, on-site interviews and discussion groups, and subsequent analysis. It presents the theoretical underpinning, the range of applications, and any evaluated outcomes of regional approaches to solving social, economic, and environmental challenges.

To read the full Literature Review, click here to download a PDF.