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Upcoming University of Vermont summit to explore rural economy and innovation

UVM Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships RISE Summit logo
UVM Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships
University of Vermont
UVM Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships RISE Summit logo

Next week the University of Vermont’s Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships will hold a summit that delves into rural development and innovation.

The second RISE or Research, Innovation, Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, Summit will bring stakeholders from across the country to address rural challenges such as health care, education, energy and sustainability.

The UVM Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships works with researchers and a variety of partners on rural issues. Director Tricia Coates is the summit organizer.

“If you come to RISE what you’re going to see is research faculty talking about what they’re learning about energy resiliency and municipal capacity in rural communities, about climate resilience, about regenerative agriculture," explains Coates. "You’re going to hear them talk about that with their partners who are out in the community. So it’s really an opportunity to learn not just about the exciting things that happen among our research faculty but also to understand how our faculty are partnering with the community.”

Among the topics attendees of the two-day summit will discuss are how place can inspire innovation and how science plays a role in a rural landscape’s future. Coates says rural communities can be laboratories to find solutions to a number of issues.

“While our work is very much focused on small communities, we believe it’s relevant to communities around the country who are confronted by many of the same challenges like climate challenges, like the need for increased access to educational opportunity and health care access.”

Senior Fellow in the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution Tony Pipa leads an initiative focused on making effective rural federal policy. The theme of his keynote speech is Reimagining Rural.

“The heart of reimagining is how do we really invest in local people in local collaboration and partnerships creating the solutions for their own communities and support them," Pipa says. "Because one of the things that I think our research has found is that renewing an economy or even the social ties that are happening in a community, that can’t be done from the outside. That has to be done by local people working together and thinking about what their future looks like together as a community. And so part of the reimagining policy is to say how can our policy do that to a greater extent.”

Pipa says the summit’s focus on partnerships is key to developing thriving rural communities.

“It is just inspirational to listen to stories and experiences from people from different parts of the state, people who have put together different kinds of partnerships and what has come of that, what the results have been," says Pipa. "That’s just a starting point. The second, though, is bringing together people to create kind of a support network. Just being able to share and exchange that knowledge, build those relationships, that’s really invaluable.”

Coates adds that the focus on partnerships is an extension of work that has been underway since last year’s RISE Summit.

“We are really inviting our participants to learn more about how these partnerships can bring value to some of the solutions that we’re seeing across the state in really important areas," Coates says. "So what we are trying to show at RISE this year is that effective partnerships with universities can bring a lot of value to some of the challenges that our communities are facing.”

The UVM RISE Summit will be held June 24th and 25th.