University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal

Planning Democracy:
Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal

Monday, May 16, 2016, 3:00-5:00pm
Crosby Seminar Room, 240 Northrop

Free and open to the public

Download: audio, small video, or original.

Very late in the New Deal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiated an ambitious program of cooperative land-use planning. It signaled something new in American history: a national network of local organizations that combined representatives of a major economic sector (here, farming) with administrators, researchers, and adult-educators aiming to plan and coordinate public policy. At the time it was seen as the most significant undertaking of the entire agrarian New Deal; citizens and experts tried to integrate earlier efforts in agricultural adjustment, soil conservation, anti-poverty measures, and other reforms. By 1941, three-fourths of all rural U.S. counties took part, involving nearly 200,000 farm people in a participatory- and deliberative-democratic process. But a conservative Congress ended cooperative planning in 1942, and since then very few historians or social scientists have studied it—even though after World War II it provided the basis for many international rural and community development initiatives.

Jess Gilbert is Professor Emeritus of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Hosted by the IAS Agrifood Collaborative. Cosponsored by the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the Hamline University Sustainability Program & Food and Society Workshop, and FEASt: Food, Environment, and Agriculture Studies.

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