The Rural Geography Group (Arbeitskreis Ländlicher Raum) within the German Association of Geography (DGfG) and the Thünen Institute of Rural Studies organised the conference
The conference addressed a wide range of topics relevant to the social development of rural areas in Europe, such as ruralism and rurality, social inequalities and regional disparities, multi-level governance, top-down policies and bottom-up activities, demographic changes, actors and conflicts of landscape change, rural labour markets, gender issues as well as problems of maintaining and transforming infrastructure and welfare services.
The conference consisted of three full days with thematic sessions and keynotes (Wednesday to Friday: June 14–16, 2017). On the final day (Saturday: June 17, 2017), we organised two field trips to rural areas in Central Germany that were subject to a variety of socio-economic, political and landscape transformations in the past decades.
The first European Rural Geography Conference was held in Nantes (France) in 2014, jointly organised by the Commission de géographie rurale (CNFG), the UMR CNRS 6950 "Espaces et sociétés“ (ESO), the Grupo de Geografía Rural (AGE) and the Rural Geography Research Group (RGS/IBG), and the working groups “Ländlicher Raum” and “Dorfentwicklung“ (DGFG) together with the Université de Nantes, the Université de Caen, the Université Rennes and the Université Angers and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). The conference succeeded a number of bilateral meetings in previous decades for the main purpose of bringing together scholars engaged in rural research. As a platform for exchange of research on rural areas and ruralities in geography and related disciplines, the conference wants to contribute to establishing a new tradition of European exchange in this field. The main theme of the Nantes conference was “The countryside: spaces of innovation in an urban world”. Participants were encouraged to participate with contributions on one of the three following themes:
Building on the feedback of the participants as well as the success of the conference, the idea for periodical exchange was born: Regular conferences every three years shall establish a steady exchange of scholars interested in rural research throughout Europe.