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The environment in which local governments, particularly smaller more rural governments operate, has undergone fundamental changes. What was once modest part-time volunteer service by civic-minded persons has been transformed into complex, time consuming political environments. As the responsibilities and challenges of managing local government mounts, institutions of higher education can play a significant role in helping these community volunteers better understand and act upon the new environment in which they find themselves. In this article, we lay out one potential line of thinking to help institutions of higher education address this growing need for applied research and outreach education.


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