Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Political Science

Advisor

Michael Miller

Committee Member

Valerie Hunt

Second Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Keywords

Community Capitals, Community Development, Higher Education, Public Policy, Rural

Abstract

Higher education institutions commonly play a role in community development. Rural communities may be even more dependent on the university's investment. As higher education has looked to meet demands of stakeholders calling for greater accountability, it has become necessary for universities to be able to justify the effectiveness of these efforts. The purpose of this study was to determine the elements necessary for successful rural community development in Western Oklahoma. Utilizing the Delphi research method, 20 community development experts in rural Western Oklahoma participated in the three-round survey process. In the initial survey, participants collectively submitted a list of 41 elements they believed to be necessary for successful rural community development. Participants were then asked to rate each element as to their level of agreement that the element was necessary. The experts were then given the mean, median and mode along with their previous individual rating for the 13 elements with the highest mean scores. Provided with this additional information, they were then asked to rate those elements once more. At the conclusion of the final survey, the experts had shown high levels of consensus on 12 of the 13 elements. Though one of the objectives of the study was to analyze how education ranked among the list of essential elements, higher education was not among the 41 original elements. No major differences were found between the scoring in Round 2 and Round 3 surveys. No significant differences were found between the scores given by experts based on what regional Council of Government (COG) they belonged to. Using Flora and Flora's Community Capitals Framework (2008), most of the top 13 items could be found in the built or human capital categories. The implications to policymakers are that rural communities need additional policy specific to those areas the experts agreed were essential, including elements of basic infrastructure and economic/workforce development. Focusing higher education efforts on the elements identified in this study could help to better define the role of higher education in rural community development and assist in the planning and assessment of institutional community development investment.

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