A Strong Connection to Practitioners
By Johannes M. Bauer, Quello Chair in Media and Information Policy, CCED Faculty Board of Advisors
I have had the privilege to serve on the Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) Faculty Board of Advisors for the past two years. During that time, I have quickly come to appreciate how the CCED facilitates and supports building of strong connections between community leaders, local businesses, engaged citizens, and the research community at Michigan State University. A productive collaboration between practitioners and researchers requires openness, mutual respect, and a two-way exchange of information and knowledge. Recent events at CCED, such as Thinkers and Doers, an ongoing collaboration between creative and innovative thinkers of Lansing and industrious and accomplished doers of Lansing, have given me opportunities to become involved and contribute to local discussions. At the same time, they help shape my own work by sharpening my understanding of pressing problems and questions that need to be addressed.
Most of my work at the Quello Center focuses on the digital economy and on ways to harness its benefits for individuals and society. This includes work on how to overcome inequalities in broadband connectivity, which continue to be rampant within urban areas but also between urban and rural parts of Michigan. One of our recent research projects examined the repercussions of lack of broadband access at home for K12 students in three Michigan school districts that serve mainly small town and rural communities. Our findings revealed in much greater detail than previous studies the disadvantages created by poor Internet connectivity (see broadbandgap.net for the full report). Research conducted by CCED on municipal electric utilities and their potential role in improving broadband access helped me to better understand available policy options and implementation strategies. I look forward to continued interaction with CCED and am energized by its mission and outlook.