Degree Held:Grete Gansauer

B.S. Forestry, Colorado State University

Degree Sought:

PhD Ecology and Environmental Sciences (Human Geography)


Dr. Julia Haggerty

Research Project:

“Building the ‘Left Behind’ Back Better? Federal place-based policy and the US rural development challenge”

Keywords: regional inequality, infrastructure, program evaluation, policy analysis, economic geography

Within the Biden-Harris administration’s ‘Build Back Better’ agenda is a stated intention to improve regional socioeconomic inequalities in the US. Accordingly, the Administration supported Congress in making “once in a generation” investments in infrastructure and key national industries through four landmark spending bills which together total over $3.8 Trillion: the American Rescue Plan Act (2021), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (2021), the Inflation Reduction Act (2022), and the Chips and Science Act (2022). Yet for place-based programs within these Acts to successfully bring ‘left behind’ regions into economic parity with the nation, they must correct for structural and locationally-specific economic development challenges in rural America. Building on economic geography theory, my dissertation investigates this problematic through a critical program evaluation and case study research in Central Montana. I draw primarily on qualitative insights gained through document analysis, interviews, event observation, and field site visits to examine the development logics evident in recent policy programs and associated outcomes in target beneficiary communities. Overall this research aims to, first, identify aspects of program theory and implementation which may impede successful policy diffusion into remote regions, and, second, develop recommendations for federal place-based programs to improve their attention to rural development needs. In so doing, I hope to contribute empirical and theoretical insights on the extent to which Bidenomics’ place-based policy redux indeed improves US regional inequalities and rural development outcomes.

[email protected]


Peer-reviewed publications

Gansauer, G., Haggerty, J.H., Smith, K.K., Haggerty, M.N., Roemer, K.F. (2023). “Can infrastructure help ‘left behind’ regions ‘catch up’? Theorizing the role of built infrastructure in regional development.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 17:1.

Gansauer, G., Haggerty, J.H., Dunn, J. (2023). “Public water system governance in rural Montana, USA: A ‘slow drip’ on community resilience”. Society and Natural Resources. pp. 1-20.

Haggerty, J.H., Dunn, J., Gansauer, G., Ewing, S., & Metcalf, E. (2021). “Social memory and infrastructure governance: A century in the life of a rural drinking water system.” Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability 1(3). 10.1088/2634-4505/ac26d1

Gansauer, G., & Haggerty, J.H. (2021). “Beyond city limits: Infrastructural-regionalism in rural Montana, USA.” Territory, Politics, Governance. pp. 1-19.