Universities and Northern Economic Development
The politics of economic development in northern, resource-based communities can be exacerbated by a wide number of challenging dynamics. These dynamics go well beyond NIMBY and BANANA responses to development, but also include the pronounced “us vs. them” perspective where development is frequently understood to be driven by exploitative interests external to the communities that are directly impacted. This discussion paper wrestles with questions related to the role of a university in economic development in northern British Columbia, Canada. The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is situated amongst multiple development initiatives related to oil and gas, mining, and hydroelectricity. Disparate and competing interests either in favour of, or in opposition to, development often look to the university for leadership and engagement. Exploring how a university might best respond to competing interests provides insight into many challenges of economic development in the North. The paper is part of a special collection of brief discussion papers presented at the 2014 Walleye Seminar, held in Northern Saskatchewan, which explored consultation and engagement with northern communities and stakeholders in resource development.
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