The following is a chapter from my 81-page thesis, The Small Business and Technology Development Center & The University of Missouri Extension: A Study of Collaboration, Civic Engagement, and Diversity. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel in rural southeast Missouri to study and participate in three economic and community development programs that are the product of collaboration between the MU Extension and the USDA RD: Strengthening Our Communities (SOC), Leaders in Economic Alliance Development (LEAD) and Stronger Economies Together (SET). The programs represent a collaborative effort on behalf of government, the university, and multiple actors in three rural regions in Southeast Missouri.
The objectives were selected based on the growing importance of all three elements in the non-profit and government sectors, and their consistent emergence as foundation topics in Southeast Missouri State University’s MPA program. Collaboration, civic engagement, and diversity are important not only for reasons of democratic theory but also because they will be the driving mechanisms behind the future of funding and transparency.