Research Partnerships for Rural Community Development

Throughout the North Atlantic Periphery, rural communities face a variety of similar challenges when it comes to managing their resources and creating and capturing value. Because even such private activities as fishing, grazing, or opening a seaside hotel depend on public conditions – such as healthy fish populations, well-managed range areas, or compatible neighboring land uses – institutional innovation in resource management is often the necessary foundation for private entrepreneurship. On this theme Prof. Hoffman maintains a varied and ongoing research program in Norway and Scotland with a variety of academic and industry partners. Current projects include an effort to expand the use of grazing resources in Norway (with NIBIO), an enquiry into the social foundations and consequences of technological innovation in agriculture (with RURALIS), and a study of game management in Scotland compared to Norway (with the James Hutton Institute). Funding is currently being sought for a project that will map unused potential grazing land in Maine and create a system for making it available. Student involvement: The project in Maine will hire and train at least three students in cooperation with local community partners, also introducing them to visiting Norwegian collaborators. In the near future Prof. Hoffman will lead a USM travel course to Norway.


Dr. Hoffman’s current project funding in Norway lasts until September 2021, and in the meantime he is actively seeking to develop new projects with new and existing partners. His priority in this regard will be projects that directly engage resource management and economic development challenges in Maine, especially projects that provide opportunities for students, industry partners, and policy makers in Maine, to connect with and learn from their counterparts in Norway. Both the Maine grazing access project and the travel course will provide such opportunities, and additional ideas or connections are welcome.


The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (multiple locations, Norway)

RURALIS Institute for Rural and Regional Research (Trondheim, Norway)

Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Ås, Norway)

Nofence AS (grazing technology company in Batnfjordsøra, Norway)

The James Hutton Institute (Aberdeen, Scotland

Matthew Hoffman

Food Studies Program

Matthew Hoffman is Assistant Professor in the Sociology and Economics Dept. at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting scholar at RURALIS, the Institute for Rural and Regional Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Prof. Hoffman received his MS and PhD in Rural Sociology from Cornell University and has twice been a Fulbright scholar in Norway. His research focuses on property rights, natural resource governance, and institutions for collaborative management in landscapes fragmented by private property. At USM he teaches courses on food systems and social justice in the Food Studies Program.