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Presenting “Higher ED: Ivory Tower Insights for Economic Development Professionals”, a blog series from the University of Waterloo

Michelle Madden / October 4, 2013

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Presenting “Higher ED: Ivory Tower Insights for Economic Development Professionals”, a blog series from the University of Waterloo

Did you know the University of Waterloo has a Local Economic Development master’s program?

Maybe not. Even though it is the only graduate program dedicated solely to local economic development in Canada—and celebrating its 25th anniversary this Fall—many people in the economic development field aren’t familiar with it. This unique program lives in the shadow of UW’s professional Economic Development Program, which you probably do know about because it trains hundreds of professionals every year.  In contrast, the LED program only admits 15-20 students in the same time period.

As a graduate program, LED has a strong focus on the theories and principles behind economic development initiatives. Students deliver many papers and projects over the course of their degree, theoretical and practical, culminating in a Major Research Paper (MRP).  These MRPs are solid, informative and often quite lengthy documents built on a substantial amount of investigation, analysis, and –sometimes – field work; from that foundation, they produce insights that could be very useful to economic development practitioners.

Note the emphasis on could. Even though most of our graduates do not become lifelong academics, their research usually only penetrates the field when they decide to share it with their colleagues. Many of our LED alumni are out there in the economic development landscape applying their knowledge every day to better their communities, projects and programs. However, most rarely get to share their findings with a wider audience. As an alum of the program myself, I can assure you that most of these MRPs are only read cover-to-cover by about 5 people: the defense committee, perhaps an eager interview subject, and sometimes a well-meaning family member (like my dear husband). My mother was very proud of me, but even she only wanted the Coles Notes version.

Luckily for us, EconomicDevelopment.org presents the perfect platform for our own variety of Coles Notes. The goal of this series is to leverage higher education to inspire a higher economic development field.  My husband won’t do anything with my MRP insights but perhaps you, the well-informed reader of EconomicDevelopment.org, can and will. Higher ED: Ivory Tower Insights for Economic Development Professionals will feature blog articles by current and recent LED students who have cutting-edge insights they want to share. True to the blog medium, they will take their MRPs (and other projects on occasion) and extract the gold nuggets that are most likely to inform and advance the field.  Collectively, we hope that you will see this series of articles as a mother lode of emerging intelligence.

About the author

Michelle Madden is a University of Waterloo staff member that works with the Local Economic Development program, and a recent graduate of the program. She will be editing this series in the months to come. In the past year, she has written two blogs for EconomicDevelopment.org based on her Major Research Paper: The trouble with preventing youth out migration and Expatriate attraction: Economic Development for ugly towns.

About the series

Higher ED: Ivory Tower Insights for Economic Development Professionals was conceived as a way to share research completed by Local Economic Development (LED) students at the University of Waterloo. It features blog articles by current and recent LED students with cutting-edge insights.

Established in 1988, the LED program is the only Masters program in Canada devoted solely to local economic development. It offers a balance between theory and practice by combining coursework, a major research paper, an internship, and weekly seminars featuring guest speakers. Students are prepared for careers in local, community, or regional economic development.

One response to “Presenting “Higher ED: Ivory Tower Insights for Economic Development Professionals”, a blog series from the University of Waterloo”

  1. James A. Umpherson says:

    Great idea. I am so looking forwarding to hearing and reading more about the blog. If there is anything that I can contribute, feel free to contact me. As a graduate of the Program, I believe in its merits and the lofty goals that UW is striving to achieve. it was my pleasure to be a part of the Program and to proudly graduate with my MAES.