Leith Deacon

Head shot of Leith Deacon
Associate Professor - Rural Planning & Development. PhD Program Coordinator
leith.deacon@uoguelph.ca | rst.gpc@uoguelph.ca
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 ext. 52521
Landscape Architecture, Room 122
Rural Planning and Development; Rural Studies PhD

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PhD - Geography, University of Western Ontario (2010)
MSc - Rural Planning and Development, University of Guelph (2004)
BA - Communications and Earth Sciences, University of Windsor (2001)

Bio Summary

Leith Deacon is an Associate Professor in Rural Planning and Development in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. He is a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) and a Registered Professional Planner (RPP). Leith is interested in supporting the long-term resilience and sustainability of rural communities and their residents. Employing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, he typically frames his research within a Systems Thinking and/or Citizen Science structure to co-develop projects with relevant community stakeholders to ensure their voices and interests are represented. Leith's current projects are both Canadian and internationally focused, with mental health and well-being, energy transition and planning, and rural economic development as specific focus areas.

Affiliations and Partnerships

  • Alberta Land Institute
  • Aurora College
  • Future Energy Systems
  • University of Alberta
  • Whitehorse Municipal Government
  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation
  • Yellowknife Municipal Government
  • Yukon Government

Current Research Projects

Sustainable Community Planning Development

Research Goal

Rural and small communities are different than their urban counterparts; their demographics, their sectoral employment trends, and their isolation are examples of contributing factors that impact these communities and justify the need for rural-focused responses. The goal of this research is to contribute knowledge to the field of rural planning and development by examining the concept of resiliency within rural and small communities.

Research Objectives

  1. To investigate four interrelated concepts of resiliency: social resiliency, economic resiliency, environmental resiliency, and legislative resiliency within and across small and rural communities
  2. To collaborate with small and rural communities and develop a data-based of rigorous data that can be used to support the development of resilient small and rural communities.
  3. To identify critical topics for small and rural communities (e.g., mental health, economic development, energy transitions, and policy) and design a series of projects that employ both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to gather relevant information.
  4. To compile and mobilize the findings from this research program to inform policy and practice and support resilient small and rural communities. 

Featured Publications

Mongeon, A., Deacon, L. and Mulligan, K., 2023. A Conceptual Framework for Governance of Health and Wellbeing in Rural Communities. Journal of Rural and Community Development18(3).

Deacon, L., Sarapura, S., Caldwell, W., Epp, S., Ivany, M. and Papineau, J., 2023. COVID19, mental health, and rurality: A pilot study. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien.

Van Assche, K., Gruezmacher, M., Summers, B., Culling, J., Gajjar, S., Granzow, M., Lowerre, A., Deacon, L., Candlish, J. and Jamwal, A., 2022. Land use policy and community strategy. Factors enabling and hampering integrated local strategy in Alberta, Canada. Land Use Policy118, p.106101.

Van Assche, K., Gruezmacher, M., Vodden, K., Gibson, R. and Deacon, L., 2021. Reinvention paths and reinvention paradox: Strategic change in Western Newfoundland communities. Futures128, p.102713.

Area of Research

Rural Planning and Development
Rural Studies