Economy and Public Policy

The Rural West Initiative

The Rural West Initiative aims to create a unique collaboration between journalists and scholars to investigate the forces transforming the rural West. We are generating reports and stories ourselves and are commissioning more from reporters and academics across the West.

Each year since 2012, the project has convened the Eccles Rural West Conference, bringing together academics, lawyers, journalists, and policymakers to share knowledge and ideas about the Rural West. The most recent conference, held in Missoula in March 2016, considered a wide range of topics from federal land management to tribal issues, housing and homelessness, and health care, among others. It also featured the release of a statewide survey of Montanans on key issues addressed at the conference, and featured a keynote address by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

To tell stories of the Rural West, the project uses extensive data visualization as well as text, video, and still photography. To further invigorate a wide-ranging public conversation, we are partnering with a number of publications and websites, some old, some young, who are talking about the state of the rural West and its prospects for the future.


Spencer F. & Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation