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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


New Ohio State Swank Chair to Tackle Rural-Urban Issues

August 22, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gaining a better understanding of the factors that shape rural-urban interdependencies is just one of the goals of Ohio State University's newly appointed C. William Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy. The Swank Program conducts research and education on issues that occur where "city meets country."


Mark Partridge, most recently a professor of agricultural economics and Canada Research Chair in the New Rural Economy from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatchewan, Canada, has filled the position formerly held by agricultural economics professor Larry Libby. Partridge's appointment officially takes effect on Oct. 1, but the Montana native has been busy settling in to his new home in the Department Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics since July.

"I like it here in Ohio," said Partridge. "I've lived in a lot of places in the United States -- Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia -- and I've lived in Canada, and I don't think I've ever seen a more genuinely friendly and helpful group of people."

Partridge's experiences growing up in a livestock-based rural community in southeast Montana prepared him for an economics career focusing on rural-urban issues. Partridge received his bachelor's degree from the University of Montana, his master's from the University of Wyoming and his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As Canada Research Chair in the New Rural Economy at the University of Saskatchewan, Partridge tackled issues that affect the vitality of rural Canada, from a diversified economy, healthcare, environment, and transportation to productive and sustainable agriculture.

"The position in Canada prepared me for Ohio State's Swank Chair position from the standpoint that rural communities in Canada are suffering from the same problems, and facing the same pressures, as rural communities in the United States," said Partridge. "The job was also helpful in that one of the key things I was trying to do was link rural communities with urban growth. That's one of the things I want to look at in the Swank position -- to explain to people that they are not separate entities. What happens with one affects the quality of life with the other."

The role of the Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy is to develop and lead research and outreach programs focused on such key issues as the pattern and pace of development, community decision-making and regional cooperation, the quality of rural and exurban life, rural and urban economic development, and the environmental amenities of farmland and green space. Partridge's background presents unique opportunities for developing new research that leads to outreach and Extension education, and also offers new experiences for students in Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

"The goals of the Swank Chair are to identify the key dynamics associated with the rural-urban interface and rural-urban interdependencies -- what are the consequences if these dynamics are not properly considered -- and then propose better policy and governance to solve those problems," said Partridge. "The prosperity of all Ohioans would be enhanced if the interdependencies between rural and urban Ohio were more properly weighed in designing policies for economic development, environmental protection, transportation, agriculture, and land use."

For more information on the Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy or for more information on Mark Partridge, log on to


Candace Pollock
Mark Partridge