Vulnerable Communities: Research, Policy, & Practice

May 11-12, 2018 • Ball State University Alumni Center
2801 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie, IN 47304 (map & directions)


Conference Registration

$150 per person; includes five meals.

Note: A small number of bursaries will be available for graduate students and scholars without access to sufficient institutional support to defray travel and registration costs. Please indicate your interest in such support when you submit your proposal.


Call for proposals flyer (PDF to view, download, and share)

Conference Theme

Social and political unease surrounding wide differences in regional economic performance has troubled Americans for more than a generation. Job losses due to international trade and automation, coupled with rapid urbanization, have had especially dramatic effects on small cities, towns, and rural communities. While geographic variation in economic growth is not new, it appears more pronounced today than in the recent past.

Recent research suggests that many of these places are at increased risk of job loss, population decline, and associated social problems as these trends accelerate in the coming years. Additionally, political turbulence during the 2016 election cycle has led to increased policy interest in nonmetropolitan communities and small cities where these difficulties are most acute. These challenges call for extended scholarly research with a policy or applied focus. Effectively confronting challenges facing nonmetropolitan communities and small cities requires better understanding the many dimensions of vulnerable communities, and encouraging interaction between academics who study these issues and policy makers who address them.

Call for Proposals

The 2018 Small Cities Conference at Ball State University brings together academics and policy makers to confront the issues facing vulnerable communities. The conference organizers seek proposals for papers and/or panels that examine the economic and social challenges facing vulnerable communities from a variety of perspectives. In particular, we welcome scholarship that considers the following:

  • Economic and policy dimensions of these problems
  • Social and cultural factors that help create resilient communities
  • Planning challenges facing these places
  • Capacity of local and state government to address the consequences of recent economic shocks

Proposal Requirements

Proposals for individual papers or fully formed panels (three papers) are welcome. A proposal for a single paper should be no more than one page and should outline the substance of the planned paper and its relevance to the conference theme. Panel proposals should be no more than four pages and include an outline of the substance of each paper as well as an explanation of their relevance to the conference theme. Papers will circulate among conference participants in advance. Please also include a brief vita for each proposed presenter (maximum two pages).

Proposals & inquiries should be directed to: Dagney Faulk, PhD,

Proposal deadline: November 1, 2017 (Notice of acceptance by November 30, 2017)

Completed paper submissions deadline: March 30, 2018

Published Volume

The conference organizers will seek to publish some or all of the conference contributions in an edited volume with permission from the authors. The author of the best paper in the conference, as chosen by the organizers, will receive a $1,000 prize and a refund of their conference fee.

Conference Hosts

Center for Middletown StudiesIndiana Communities Institute & RUPRI Center for State PolicyCenter for Business and Economic Research