Thinking Regionally: Research, Policy, & Practice

Small Cities Conference • May 13-15, 2021 • Muncie, IN

The 2020 Conference will now be held May 13-15, 2021

Wide variation in regional economic performance has troubled Americans for more than a generation. Job losses due to international trade and automation, coupled with rapid urbanization, rural population decline, and the divergence in educational attainment between growing and declining places, have had especially dramatic effects on small cities, towns, and rural communities. Scholars and policy makers increasingly recognize the need for regional approaches that address these issues.

Non-metropolitan places regularly encounter public policy challenges spanning multiple communities and jurisdictions. These challenges call for extended scholarly research with a policy or applied focus. Effectively confronting challenges facing rural communities, towns, and smaller cities requires both a better understanding of regional linkages and greater interaction between the academics who study these issues and the policy makers who address them.

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Conference Registration

Registration and payment are required in advance for all attendees.

Register now (Eventbrite)

Full conference registration includes admission to all sessions and five meals.

  • Early-bird deadline April 15
  • Final deadline May 1
  • Admission to Thursday's session only is available at a reduced rate, deadline May 1

Small Cities Conference • May 7-9, 2020
L.A. Pittenger Student Center, Ball State University
2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 47306

Tentative Session Topics


  • Regional Implications of School Choice* (4 p.m.)

*Admission to Thursday’s session only is available at a reduced rate


  • Patterns of Regional Divergence Since the Great Recession
  • Micropolitan Development Strategies
  • The Power of Place: Community-Centered Revitalization Strategies
  • Sustaining and Reviving Communities
  • Refining Redevelopment: Tools and Methods
  • Job Growth in Regional Contexts
  • Quality of Life and Governance

Schedule is subject to change.

Full conference details, including lodging and schedule, will be available at the conference website:


Inquiries should be directed to Dagney Faulk, PhD, director of research at Ball State CBER.