Ryan Gibson

Head shot of Ryan Gibson
Associate Professor - Rural Planning & Development, (Libro Professor in Regional Economic Development)
Phone number: 
519-824-4120, Ext. 56785
Landscape Architecture, Room 111
Rural Planning and Development, PhD Rural Studies

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Bio Summary

Originally from rural Manitoba, Ryan Gibson has a deep intrigue and respect for rural communities, rural people and the events that shape their futures. Growing up witnessing the transformations in rural development, agriculture and their influence on communities instilled a fascination and commitment to rural issues. Ryan joined the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development in July 2016 in the Libro Professorship in Regional Economic Development position, which is supported by a $500,000 donation from Libro Credit Union, along with two gifts from the Klosler and Roberts families, totalling an additional $500,000.


  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Brandon University
  • Master of Rural Development, Brandon University
  • PhD in Economic Geography, Memorial University

Affiliations and Partnerships

Research Impact

Ryan’s approach to research focuses on community-engaged research approaches to examine how rural communities sustain themselves in the new global economy. To address this large question, his research focuses on enhancing our understanding of rural development strategies, regional planning policy, governance, immigration and mobility, wealth and philanthropy, and public policy. Ryan’s work is at the nexus of local development practice, public policy, and academic knowledge. Recently, Ryan provided expert witness testimony to the Senate of Canada on the economics of rural infrastructure, the Scottish Government on comparative rural policy, and the Government of Sweden on Canadian rural policy approaches.

Ryan is the past president of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. He is the chair of the Institute of Island Studies Advisory Board at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Current Research

How can rural communities utilize local financial assets to build sustainable and vibrant futures?

Rural communities throughout Canada are challenged with issues of how to be sustainable in the new global economy. This research explores the potential role of place-based, community-owned endowments as a mechanism to facilitate revitalization and sustainability. This research will advance our collective knowledge of how philanthropy can be utilized as a rural development strategy, in both policy and practice. This research is supported by an Insight Grant from SSHRC led by Ryan and a Partnership Grant from SSHRC led by Jean-Marc Fontan (Université du Québec à Montréal).

How effective are provincial rural policies?

Governments across Canada struggle develop and implement robust, flexible, and effective rural policies and programs to meet the ever-changing contexts of rural communities. The distinct nature and characteristics of rural communities is often difficult to incorporate into public policy. Ryan’s is currently working with a team of researchers from across Canada on this research initiative to examine the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of provincial rural policies. The research will generate evidence-based recommendations for the design and implementation of successful rural policies and programs. This research initiative is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

What can rural communities do to attract, settle, and integrate new immigrants?

The outmigration of young people and aging populations have many rural communities and governments looking to immigration as an approach for population and economic sustainability. This research examines how rural communities, which often have limited experiences in immigration, plan to attract new immigrants. The research examines how welcoming community strategies can be used in rural places. The outcomes of this research will help rural development planners, policy makers, and businesses assess immigration as a potential strategy. The research will also identify best practices from across Canada to enhance rural planning and development.

Graduate Student Information

Ryan is interested in working with graduate students interested in the areas of rural development, economic development, regional planning and public policy. Past graduate students are now working in a variety of sectors, including as policy analysts in provincial and federal governments, economic development officers, and the private sector.

Current Doctoral Students

Joshua Barrett (PhD in Rural Studies)
John Dale (PhD in Rural Studies)
Louis Helps (PhD in Rural Studies)
Melanie Lang (PhD in Rural Studies)
Natasha D’Souza (PhD in Rural Studies) 

Current Master Students

Lucas Berek (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Samuel Burrell (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Jacob Chol (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Connor Dorey (Master of Planning)
Heather Graham (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Danika Hammond (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Ferdous Huq (Master of Planning)
Calum Jacques (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Roya Kakavand (Master of Planning)
Madeline Kowalchuck (Master of Planning)
Sarah Lyons (Master of Planning)
Shayan Madani Ghahfarokhi (Master of Planning)
Will Meneray (Master of Planning)
Damilola Oyewale (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Jeremy Parsons (Master of Planning)
Getanjali Rana (Master of Planning)
Rebecca Roibas (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Arshjit Singh (Master of Planning)
Paul Sitsofe (Master of Planning)
Andrea Torok (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)
Chris van Dyke (Master of Planning)
Shanley Weston (MSc in Rural Planning and Development)

Featured Publications

  • Gibson, R., & Annis, R. C. (2019). Rural immigration and welcoming communities. In M. Vittuari, M Pagani, J. Devlin, J. I. Stallmann, T.G. Johnson (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Comparative Rural Policy: Theories, Methods, and Case Studies. London: Routledge. 
  • Gibson, R. (2019). Seeking Multi-Level Collaborative Governance. In K. Vodden, D. Douglas, S. Markey, S. Minnes, & W. Reimer (Eds.), The Theory, Practice and Potential of Regional Development: The Case of Canada (pp. 80-97).  London: Routledge.
  • Gibson, R., & Annis, R., (2018). Rural immigration and welcoming communities. In M. Vittuari, M. Pegani, J. Devlin, J. Stallmann, & T. Johnson (Eds) Routlege Handbook of Comparative Rural Policy: Theories, Methods, and Case Studies.
  • Gibson, R., & Barrett, J. (2018). Philanthropic organizations to the rescue? Alternative funding solutions for rural sustainability. In G. Halseth, S. Markey, & L. Ryser (Eds), Integrative Services and Service Infrastructure for 21st Century Rural Sustainability.
  • Brinklow, L., & Gibson, R. (2017). From dark horses to white steeds: Building community resilience. Charlottetown: Island Studies Press.
  • Gibson, R., Bucklaschuk, J., & Annis, R. (2017). Working together: Collaborative response to welcoming newcomers in Brandon, Manitoba. In G. Bonifacio & J. Drolet (Eds), Immigration and the Small City: Canadian Experiences and Perspectives (pp. 35-53).
  • Vodden, K., Gibson, R., & Baldacchino, G. (2015). Place peripheral: The promise and challenge of place-based development in rural and remote areas. St John’s: Institute of Social and Economic Research.

For a full list of Ryan’s publications, please visit his Google Scholar page.

Related Links

Area of Research

Rural Planning and Development
Rural Studies