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Principal Investigator: Ann Dale, Royal Roads University

Case Study Leaders: Jenny Onyx, University of Technology at Sydney, Nina-Marie Lister,
Ryerson University, Kevin Hanna, Sir Wilfrid Laurier University

The goal of this three-year SSHRC research project is to investigate the network mechanisms by which social capital contributes to sustainable development at the local (or regional, national, global) level. Two explicit research objectives inform this goal:
1. to characterize the properties of networks that generate social capital and network formation; and
2. to analyze the mechanisms by which social capital contributes to sustainable development.

One anticipated research outcome will be to determine at what levels, if any, governments should be intervening to enhance social capital development. Networks are one means to transfer and hold knowledge in both the formal and informal sector, often leading to a reconciliation of previously competing information, interests and agendas. Therefore, by developing a better understanding of the precise mechanisms and properties by which networks contribute to increased social capital, we can then also determine the best use of resources to achieve that end. One outcome of this research is, therefore, to identify the best policy opportunities for enhancing social capital in the context of sustainable development.

Five case studies are now underway, with one meta case analysis. This presentation focuses on two of these cases—Broken Hill in Australia and Merritt in British Columbia. Both communities are single-resource economies (mining) trying to diversify their economic base.