Vulnerable Communities: Research, Policy, & Practice

May 11-12, 2018 • Ball State University Alumni Center
2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, IN 47304 (map & directions)


Published Volume

The conference organizers will seek to publish some or all of the conference contributions in an edited volume with permission from the authors.


Conference Theme

Social and political unease surrounding wide differences in regional economic performance has troubled Americans for more than a generation. Job losses due to international trade and automation, coupled with rapid urbanization, have had especially dramatic effects on small cities, towns, and rural communities. While geographic variation in economic growth is not new, it appears more pronounced today than in the recent past.

Recent research suggests that many of these places are at increased risk of job loss, population decline, and associated social problems as these trends accelerate in the coming years. Additionally, political turbulence during the 2016 election cycle has led to increased policy interest in nonmetropolitan communities and small cities where these difficulties are most acute. These challenges call for extended scholarly research with a policy or applied focus. Effectively confronting challenges facing nonmetropolitan communities and small cities requires better understanding the many dimensions of vulnerable communities, and encouraging interaction between academics who study these issues and policy makers who address them.

Conference Schedule | Nearby Restaurants & Amusements | Abstracts for Friday | Abstracts for Saturday | Presenter Biographies 


Registration is now closed. See you at the conference!


The 2018 Small Cities Conference will be held on the northwest edge of the Ball State University campus. Muncie, Ind. is approximately 1 hour northeast of Indianapolis, 1.5 hours south of Fort Wayne, 2.5 hours northwest of Cincinnati, and 4 hours southeast of Chicago. Alumni Center address: 2800 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, IN 47304

The conference is a short, 10-minute drive from downtown Muncie, home to unique restaurants, craft breweries, and nightlife, and less than 5 minutes away from McGalliard Avenue, Muncie's commercial strip with dozens of familiar restaurants.


Enjoy a discounted conference rate at the following hotels: (posted as they become available)

  • Presenters only, please: Ball State University Hotel | located on the west side of the L.A. Pittenger Student Center | 765-285-1555
    Deadline April 25: Mention that you are a presenter for the Small Cities Conference when making your reservation over the phone
  • Comfort Inn | 3400 N. Marleon Dr., Muncie, IN 47304 | 765-587-0294
    Deadline April 19: Mention the Small Cities Conference when making your reservation over the phone
  • Courtyard Muncie | 601 S. High St., Muncie, IN 47305 (downtown) | 765-287-8550
    10 rooms available, deadline April 25: Mention the Ball State Rate when making your reservation over the phone, rate already included in online link
  • Holiday Inn Express | 4201 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, IN 47304 | 765-289-4678
    Deadline April 10: Mention the group code SCC (Small Cities Conference) when making your reservation over the phone

Conference Sponsors

Accelerate Indiana Municipalities    Indiana Philanthropy Alliance 
Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (AIM)    Indiana Philanthropy Alliance 


Conference Hosts