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NRN Events

NRN events are open to all and free of charge unless otherwise stated. Advance booking is essential. Booking forms, together with a programme, will be sent ahead of each event to NRN members. If you would like to be added to this mailing list, please see the Home Page for details of how to register with NRN. In the meantime, do make a note in your diary of events that you don’t want to miss.

Further Details »




The NRN was created by the Centre for Rural Economy in 2000 after research identified the need for effective networking between practitioners, researchers, communities, businesses and policy makers as key to achieving sustainable rural development.  

In the 1990s CRE research examined the role of networks in rural development. They argued that success relied on using both local and extra local resources in the development process – an idea which has come to be known as the neo-endogenous approach to rural development. The rural areas of the UK and Europe which research showed were most successful at social and economic development had access to networks which enabled them to make better use of local 'capital'. In other words they were ‘plugged into’ regional, national and international markets, institutions and knowledge brokers facilitating both business growth and community development initiative. The researchers argued that, using a methodology called network analysis, you could more effectively understand the dynamics of rural change and identify developmental patterns across the European countryside. They began to experiment with setting up networking meetings to bring together rural development practitioners working in different organisations, sectors and areas. 

As well as just analysing networks they began the process of facilitating networking, of creating bridges in the rural areas of the north of England. This work initially focused on European funding programmes with the theories about the value of networking providing a conceptual basis for work in the northern uplands Objective 5b Programme in the late 1990s. The early experiments proved successful. Feedback from practitioners showed that they were eager for more networking in order to learn from each other as well as from the researchers. Practitioners thought that networking benefited their work. They talked about it increasing their confidence and building social ties as well as providing them with a source of new ideas that they could try. The success of the early networking events spawned a larger and more systematic programme of work to form the first ever university facilitated rural network. 

In 2000 the Northern Rural Network was launched with funding from various public sector organisations and the Northern Rock Foundation. The Network, now with over 1,300 members, continues to be active. Details of NRN events and activities are available in the Archive section of this website. 

By 2004 the underpinning research had evolved to focus on the ways in which networking could be more effectively used in the facilitation of rural development. The focus has also shifted to supporting economic and business development as the Network was supported by regional development agency funding.  CRE researchers were able to use the practical experience of running the NRN to contribute to the knowledge base on universities and regional development. In 2006 CRE was involved with an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development project on the contribution of universities to regional development the report from which cites NRN as a good practice example.

Today the NRN is funded by the Centre for Rural Economy, part of the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University. We work with a range of partners to deliver events and activities. If you are interested in developing an idea for an event please contact Guy Garrod



In-depth reports about the work of NRN are accessible via the links below.


Past Events

Details of past events, with downloads of presentations, etc, can be found via the Archive page.



Downloads attached to this page