Exploring rural resilience pathways for transitioning coal communities in the U.S. West

Authors: Kelli Roemer*, Montana State University
Topics: Rural Geography, Planning Geography, Energy
Keywords: rural geography, community resilience, policy response, institutional capacity
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


As the world’s rural regions face increasing environmental and economic uncertainty, scholars across several disciplines –social sciences, human geography, rural policy and planning, and regional development– are increasingly engaged in understanding factors that shape community resilience during societal transitions. Transition research has been used to understand societal change in diverse fields such as global sustainable development (Loorbach 2007), policy change (Loorbach and Rotmans 2010), socio-technical transitions of energy systems (Geels, 2006 ), and socio-environmental transitions in land use and agriculture (Wilson 2012). Transition theory draws on concepts of path dependency and transitional corridors to understand and disentangle social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental complexities of societal transitions from one state to another (Wilson 2007). A transition theory framework is useful for understanding community resilience because it enables the ability to forecast into the future based on existing pathways of change and to look back at the past to identify and characterize both endogenous and exogenous factors shaping a community’s existing transitional pathways (Wilson 2014). Importantly, transition theory highlights the overlapping nature of processes of change at the community level by emphasizing how decision nodes create and alter trajectories between community resilience and vulnerability (Bailey and Wilson 2009). This research uses community resilience and transition theory framework to investigate characteristics and processes that encourage or limit community-level transition planning in the context of U.S. communities impacted by a coal-fired power plant closure.

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