What is Free Range?

The Free Range International Knowledge Partnership (Free Range) is an international collaboration of institutes and researchers who have made community-level rural research a priority. We are guided by the idea that in order to conduct rural research, one needs to consider issues deeply and across a range of disciplines. Our work spans quantitative and qualitative methods, all guided by involvement within the communities with which we partner. We have summarized this approach through a Dirt Research methodology, which incorporates aspects of ethnography and participatory action research.

Free Range aims to:

  • Facilitate international knowledge exchange on the wellbeing of rural communities;
  • ‘Breed better students’ through the field-based interchange and ongoing collegial support;
  • Develop innovative approaches to ‘wicked’ problems facing rural communities; and,
  • Enhance international research partnerships.

Free Range has already supported over 30 scholars for a range of activities including attending international workshops, conducting field research, and contributing to academic publications. Scholars, research mentors, and community partners have worked collaboratively on a variety of projects and produced a range of knowledge outputs related to their academic goals.

Where do we work?

Team leaders and partners are primarily from Australia, Austria, Canada, and Sweden. However, we also have cluster leaders and collaboration with scholars in Iceland, New Zealand, and Spain.

Who is involved in Free Range?

Our partnership involved participation from a range of groups:

  • Communities: We have several key community partners in Australia, Canada, and Sweden. These include local organizations such as Community Resource Centres, as well as local government and economic development agencies.
  • Scholars: Students (scholars) form the backbone of what we’re doing. We have participation from a range of scholars from high-school through Ph.D. We have deliberately chosen to use the term scholar for all participants as it removes the hierarchy between academic workers and students.
  • Academics: We have over a dozen academics involved in our project, with expertise including Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Planning, and many others.
  • Research Centres: Within the three primary universities (Carleton University, Umea University, and University of Salzburg), we are aligned with academic research units. These units provide us an administrative home and a means by which students and academics can be involved.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to be involved in Free Range. For students, they can contact us and ask about involvement in our endeavor. Most students come from institutions where we have an ongoing relationship, as this allows them to receive credit for their involvement. We don’t generally accept unsolicited applications from international students.