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The Rural West Initiative

The Rural West Initiative explores issues of the less populated areas of the North American West – places whose natural beauty and heritage are matched only by the challenges they face. These issues, such as access to economic opportunity, health care, education, and housing, often get less attention than they deserve.

Through research and conferences, we seek to join and energize a conversation between journalists and scholars, citizens, nongovernmental groups and policymakers, about a region that still holds powerful sway over our national imagination and our future.

Each year since 2012, the project has convened the Eccles Family Rural West Conference to share knowledge and ideas about the Rural West. The most recent conference, held in Yakima in March 2018, considered a range of topics ranging from wildfires and health care to collaborative governance.

The next Rural West Conference will be taking place in the spring of 2019. More details will be forthcoming.


Rural Health and Health Care Research

The Bill Lane Center for the American West is working to bring attention to a set of persistent problems impacting rural health and health care delivery across the western US. Our initial efforts focus on three areas:

  1. Identifying and compiling best practices from across the region and globe
  2. Creating a forum for idea exchange among practitioners, academics and community members
  3. Hosting convenings to discuss these ideas and research

By examining clinical needs, health care delivery and the underpinning policies that support improved health and health care in the rural West, the Center is an eager collaborator with Stanford School of Medicine’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Working with Stanford undergraduate researchers, Bruce Cain and Iris Hui will be exploring the following topics during summer 2018:

  • Air quality in the California Central Valley
  • Telemedicine in NE and Australia
  • Environmental impacts of wildfire on health


We are grateful for the generous support of the Spencer F. & Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation.