As soon as word came that the 2019 International Comparative Rural Policy Studies (ICRPS) Summer Institute was going to be taking place in Rovaniemi, Finland, I knew I had to be there. Finland, and the Lapland region, have quickly become intriguing examples of the possibilities for building rural innovation ecosystems. As a doctoral student focused on investigating the link between place and innovation in rural communities, ICRPS2019 presented an amazing opportunity to see what was happening in the Arctic Circle first-hand – and our hosts in Lapland more than delivered on this promise by giving participants an inside look at the challenges and opportunities facing this interesting region as it deals with issues familiar to rural areas around the world: the impacts of climate change, the effects of changing demographics, and the consequences of shifting economies. After two weeks exploring, learning and thinking with 25 participants from around the world, I left Lapland with a deeper appreciation for the importance of comparative research – and new connections that will hopefully produce just that! (And, as you can see by the picture: if research doesn’t pan out, I learned I could turn to gathering yarrow to make some great herbed salt!)
To read day-by-day reflections from participants at ICRPS2019 on the activities and content covered during our two weeks in Lapland, visit
Thank you to the faculty, participants, and everyone involved with ICRPS2019 for a great experience – with special thanks to our hosts at the University of Lapland (particularly Timo Aarrevaara, Rikka Kangas, and Salla Numminen). Thank you to the Rural Policy Learning Commons Governance Network and the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development for providing funding support to help facilitate my participation at ICRPS2019.
Written by Ashleigh Weeden