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Program Models For Rural Social And
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Simulation models that replicate the dynamics of rural growth and decline would provide aninvaluable analytical tool for rural leaders, program administrators, educators and communityprofessionals. A Rural Community Modeler (RCM) was developed in a previous Phase I effortusing the system dynamics methodology to interrelate social, educational, economic,demographic, environmental and agricultural aspects of a community so as to reproduce thelong-term dynamic behavior of a rural area. RCM explicitly captures feedback relationships andprovides a vivid description of how and why changes occur, giving planners the opportunity toexplore the impact of alternative policies designed to guide future changes. Although RCMexceeded the Phase I technical objectives, resulting in a prototyped software application thatpresented the potential power of a fully operational model, the Phase II reviewers were not clearon how such a model might impact community policy. The unique opportunity presented by thisproposal is to use RCM in its prototype form to investigate its potential acceptance and utility inrural communities. RCM can be used as a test vehicle for studying how rural residents mightunderstand and use such advanced software tools and how RCM-type models could be acceptedand implemented in rural communities.
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