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Theodore Alter, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics
  • Co-Director, Center for Economic and Community Development
  • Adjunct Research Fellow, Australian Center for Agriculture and Law, University of New England
Theodore Alter, Ph.D.
204 Armsby
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-8640

Areas of Expertise

  • Agricultural Economics and Policy
  • Development Economics
  • Public Sector Economics
  • Community and Regional Economics
  • Community and Rural Development
  • Comparative Rural Policy
  • Institutional and Behavioral Economics
  • Resource and Environmental Economics
  • Public Scholarship and Civic Engagement in Higher Education

Education

  1. Ph.D., Resource Economics and Policy, Michigan State University, 1976

Vitae

Research Interests

Agricultural economics and policy, development economics, public sector economics, community and regional economics, community and rural development, comparative rural policy, institutional and behavioral economics, resource and environmental economics, and public scholarship and civic engagement in higher education. 

Outreach/Extension Interests

Community and rural development, rural policy, public sector economics, public finance, critical infrastructure, and leadership and organizational development. 

Current/Recent Courses

  • AG BM 101: Principles of Agribusiness Decision Making
  • CED 375H: Community, Local Knowledge, and Democracy
  • CED 417: Power, Conflict, and Community Decision Making
  • CEDEV 500: Principles of Community and Economic Development and Leadership
  • CEDEV 560: Regional Development: Principles, Policy, and Practice  

Recent Selected Publications

Fortunato, Michael W-P, Theodore R. Alter, Philip Thomas, and Sujana Adapa. (Forthcoming 2016). “Intentional Innovation Communities: Concepts and Preliminary Evidence.” Economic Development Quarterly.

Balfour, B.J., & Alter, T.R. (Forthcoming 2016). Mapping community innovation: Using social network analysis to map the interactional field, identifying facilitators, and fostering community development. Community Development: The Journal of the Community Development Society.

Thomas, Philip, Adapa, S., Fortunato, M. W-P, & Alter, T. R. (2015). Theory and practice of regional community based intentional innovation in Northern Inland New South Wales. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 21(3), 323-348.

Fortunato, M.W-P, & Alter, T.R. (2015). “Community entrepreneurship development: An introduction.” Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, 46(5), 444-455.

Dye, B., & Alter, T.R. (2015). Government and the entrepreneurial ecology: The case of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Community Development: A Journal of the Community Development Society, 46(5), 541-558.

Bórawski, P., Dunn, J.W., & Alter, T.R. (2015). Evaluation of human capital and its impact on economic results of farms engaged in non-agricultural activity in Poland. Roczniki Ekonomiczne Kujawsko-Pomorskiej Szkoły Wyższej w Bydgoszczy, 8, 187-201.

Brennan, M., Bridger, J., and T. R. Alter (Eds.), Theory, Practice, and Community Development, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Forthcoming 2013.

Mehta, Khanjan, T. R. Alter, A. Maretzki and L. Semali. "AcademIK Connections: Bringing Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives into the Classroom." Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship. Forthcoming 2013.

Fortunato, Michael W -P, Theodore R. Alter, Jeffrey C. Bridger, Kathleen A. Schramm, and Lina Montopoli. 2013. "Weighing the Universal Service Obligation: Introducing Rural Well-Being as a Consideration in the Viability of the United States Postal Service." Community Development.

McPhail, Lindsay, Theodore Fuller, and Theodore R. Alter. "Middle-Income Measurement: Reviewing Data for Insights About the Current Business Cycle and Middle-Income Jobs in Pennsylvania."Pennsylvania Borough News: The Official Magazine of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. 2012: 25-27. 

Brown, Louis, Theodore R. Alter, Leigh Brown, Marilyn Corbin, Claire Flaherty-Craig, Lindsay McPhail, Pauline Nevel, Kimbra Shoop, Glenn Sterner, Thomas Terndrup, and M. Weaver. 2012. "Rural Embedded Assistants for Community Health (REACH) Network: First-Person Accounts in a Community-University Partnership." American Journal of Community Psychology: 0091-0562.

Lyons, Thomas S., Theodore R. Alter, David Audretsch, and Darline Augustine. 2012. “Entrepreneurship and Community: The Next Frontier of Entrepreneurship Research.”  Entrepreneurship Research Journal :  2 (1) Article 1.

Mukhopadhyay, Åsa; Shingler, John M.; Alter, Theodore R.; and Findeis, Jill. 2011. " Determining Eligibility for Poverty-Based Assistance Programs: Comparing the Federally Established Poverty Level with the Self Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania ," Poverty & Public Policy : 3 (3), Article 7.

Fortunato, M. W-P and T. R. Alter. 2011. "The Individual-Institutional-Opportunity Nexus: An Integrated Framework for Analyzing Entrepreneurship Development," Entrepreneurship Research Journal : 1 (1), Article 6.

Peters, S.J. with T.R. Alter and N. Schwartzbach. 2010. Democracy and Higher Education: Traditions and Stories of Civic Engagement. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. 

Alter, T.R., M. W-P. Fortunato, P. Z. Frumento,  K. A. Schramm, and A. R. Weinstein.  2010. Building for the Future: Strengthening Pennsylvania’s Critical Infrastructures. Speaker’s Journal on Pennsylvania Policy , House of Representatives, General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Fortunato, M. W-P., T.R. Alter, K. Poppiti, J. Bridger, S. Sager, B. Shuffstall. 2010. Well-Connected: A Three County Case Study of Open Access Broadband Development in Northern Appalachia. Speaker’s Journal on Pennsylvania Policy,  House of Representatives, General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Bridger, J. and T.R. Alter. 2010.  Public Sociology, Public Scholarship, and Community Development.  Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society 41(4):405-416.

Peters, S.J., T.R. Alter, and T.J. Shaffer. 2010. Relating Reason and Emotion in Democratic Politics. Connections: The Kettering Foundation’s Annual Newsletter 2010. pp. 15-17.

Sager, S.S., M. Fortunato, T.R. Alter, and W.C. Shuffstall.  2010. A Comparative Analysis of the Role of the State in Broadband Policy for Rural Areas: An Investigation of Telecom Policy in the United States and Canada. Chapter 6 in Morten Falch and Jan Markendahl (eds.), Promoting New Telecom Infrastructures: Markets, Policies and Pricing .  Edward Elgar Publisher. Selected paper from 2008 International Telecommunications Society Conference in Rome, Italy. 

Peters, S.J. and T.R. Alter. 2010. Civic Engagement Across the Career Stages of Faculty Life: A Proposal for a New Line of Inquiry. Chapter 16 in H. Fitzgerald, C. Burack, and S. Seifer (eds.), Handbook on Engaged Scholarship: The Contemporary Landscape, Vol. 1.

Alter, T.R and M.W. Fortunato. 2010. Time to Move Forward: How the Great Recession Impacted Pennsylvania Boroughs. Pennsylvania Borough News.

Alter, T.R. 2010.  Keys to Leadership. Pennsylvania Borough News.

Alter, T.R., B.L. Schramm, and H.L. Moore. 2009. "Rural Development in the United States Farm Bill. " Chapter in Miroslave Drygas, editor. Agriculture Policy in Light of the Farm Bill 2008 and the Future of the CAP of the EU After 2013. Warsaw, Poland:The Institute of Rural and Agriculture Development of the Polish Academy of Science.

Alter, T.R., T.E. Fuller, and S.M. Smith. 2009. Pennsylvania: Road to Growth 2001-2007 and Beyond. February 2009. Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences.

Peters, S. J., T. R. Alter, and N. Schwartzbach. 2008. “Unsettling a Settled Discourse: Faculty Views of the Meaning and Significance of the Land-Grant Mission.” Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement 12 (2): 33-66.

Shingler, J., T.R. Alter, M. Van Loon, and J. Bridger. 2008. “The Importance of Subjective Data for Public Agency Performance Evaluation.” Public Administration Review . 68(6): 1101-1112.

Bridger, J.C. and T.R. Alter. 2008. “An interactional approach to place-based development." Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, 39 (1): 99-111.

Bridger, J.C. and T.R. Alter . 2006.“The Engaged University, Community Development, and Public Scholarship.” Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 11(1): 163-178.

Bridger, J.C. and T.R. Alter. 2006. “Place, Social Capital, and Community Development.” Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society 37(1): 5-18.

Schafft, K.A., T.R.Alter, and J.C. Bridger. 2006. “Bringing the Community Along: A Case Study of a School District’s Information Technology Rural Development Initiative”.  The Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(8): 1-10.

Recent Selected Presentations and Papers

Fortunato, Michael W-P, Jeffrey C. Bridger, Theodore R. Alter, Grace M. Emmerling, Kathryn J. Ortbal, Mike R. Schwartz, Glenn E. Sterner, and William C. Shuffstall. 2012. Promoting Fair Local Organizing for Broadband Delivery: Suggestions for Community-Level Action in Persistently Underserved Communities. Presented by Fortunato and Alter at the Annual National Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC), George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA, September 21-23 2012.

Sterner, Glenn E. III, Michael W-P Fortunato, Kathryn J. Ortbal, Theodore R. Alter, William C. Shuffstall, and Jeffrey C. Bridger. 2012. Unequal Access: An Examination of the Barriers Rural Areas Continue to Face in Broadband Development. Paper Presentation at the 2012 Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, July 26-29 2012.

Sterner, Glenn E., Michael W-P Fortunato, William C. Shuffstall, Theodore R. Alter, and Jeffrey C. Bridger. 2012. A Study of Local Broadband Delivery Strategies for Bridging the Digital Divide. Poster Presentation at the 2012 Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, July 26-29 2012.

Shuffstall, William C., Michael W-P Fortunato, Glenn E. Sterner, Jeffrey C. Bridger, Theodore R. Alter, and Tufan Bal. 2012. Local Processes for Independent Broadband Development. Presentation at the 2012 Conference of the Community Development Society, Cincinnati, OH, July 21-25 2012.

Shuffstall, William C., Glenn E. Sterner, Michael W-P Fortunato, and Theodore R. Alter. 2012. Bridging the Digital Divide: A Study of Rural Broadband Delivery Models. Poster Presentation at the 2012 National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals Annual Meeting, Park City, UT, May 20-23 2012.

Alter, Theodore R. “Linking Relationships, Leadership, and Community Engagement: Penn State Extension Director Seminar.”  Presented at Penn State University, February 2012.

Alter, T.R. and M.P.W. Fortunato. 2011. “Rural Broadband Investment in the United States: The Political Economy of Growth.” Presented by Theodore Alter at The University of New England. Armidale NSW, Australia. August 2011.   

Sterner, G. & Alter, T. (2011).  Enabling Rural Innovation. Presented 30 July 2011 at Rural Sociological Society and Community Development Society 2011 Joint Meeting. 

Fortunato, M.W.P. and T.R Alter. 2011. “Entrepreneurial Opportunity and Culture in Rural America: Examining Behavioral, Institutional, and Cultural Differences Between Areas of High and Low Entrepreneurship.” Presented by Michael Fortunato at the Uddevalla Symposium on Entrepreneurial Knowledge, Technology and Transformation of Regions. Bergamo, Italy. June 2011

Fortunato, M.W.P., T.R. Alter and J.M. Klose. 2011. “Institutions, Entrepreneurs, and Opportunity: An Interactional Approach to University Engagement in Entrepreneurship Development.” Presented by Michael Fortunato at GCHERA 2011: “Universities of Agriculture and Life Sciences: entrepreneurs for sustainable rural development.” Beauvais, France. June 2011.

Alter, T.R. and M.W.P. Fortunato.  2010.  "The Individual-Institutional-Opportunity Nexus in Entrepreneurship: Bridging Perspectives in Entrepreneurship and Community and Regional Economic Development."  Presented by Michael Fortunato at the Uddevalla Symposium on Multi-Dimensional Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Uddevalla, Sweden, August 2010.  

Alter, T.R. and M.W.P. Fortunato.  2010. "Against the Grain: What Motivates Entrepreneurs to Locate in Pennsylvania’s Non-Metropolitan Cities and Boroughs."  Presented by Michael Fortunato at the Uddevalla Symposium on Multi-Dimensional Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Uddevalla, Sweden, August 2010.

Alter, T.R., “Asset-Mapping Workshop.” Westmoreland County’s First Annual Community and Economic Development Summit. 9 September 2010.

Alter, T.R., “Improving Rural Policy.” Westmoreland County’s First Annual Community and Economic Development Summit. 9 September 2010.

Alter, T.R., “Pennsylvania’s Economy: What’s Next?” 2010 PA Truck Dealers Association, 19 August 2010.Alter, T.R., Keynote speaker. Pennsylvania’s Economy: What’s Next? Pennsylvania Data User Conference, Harrisburg, PA, 10 September, 2010.

Fortunato, M. W-P and T. R. Alter. 2010. “The Individual-Institutional-Opportunity Nexus in Entrepreneurship: Bridging Perspectives in Entrepreneurship and Community and Regional Development.”  Presented by Michael Fortunato at the Southern Regional Science Association, Arlington, VA. 25 March, 2010.

Alter, T.R., Invited presentation.  The Recession and Rural Pennsylvania – What’s Next?. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association Summer Meeting. 16 July 2009.

Alter, T.R., J.C. Bridger, M.W.P. Fortunato, K.A. Poppiti, S.S. Sager, and W.C. Shuffstall. The Digital Divide:A Three-county Case Study of Open-Access Broadband Development in Pennsylvania . Rural Sociological Society (RSS), August 1, 2009, Madison, WI.

Alter, T.R., M.W.P. Fortunato, S.S. Sager, and W.C. Shuffstall. Open Access:A Rural Broadband Delivery Model. National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP), 21 April 2009, San Diego, CA.

Sager, S. S., T.R. Alter, and W.C. Shuffstall. Broadband Policy for Rural Areas and the Role of the State: A Comparative Analysis . Middle Atlantic and New England Council for Canadian Studies (MANECCS) and Southern Association for Canadian Studies (SACS) Joint Conference on Canadian Studies, 2-5 October 2008, Washington, DC.

Sager, S. S., T.R. Alter, and W.C. Shuffstall. A Comparative Analysis of the Role of the State in Broadband Policy for Rural Areas. International Telecommunications Society 19th European Regional Conference, 17-20 September 2008, Luiss Guido Carli University, Rome, Italy.

Bridger, J.C. and T.R. Alter. Public Scholarship and Rural Sociology . Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting, Manchester, NH, 31 July 2008.

Alter, T.R., J.C. Bridger, S. Sager, and W.C. Shuffstall. Integrating Telecommunications and Rural Policy . The Rural Telecommunications Conference, Springfield, IL, 17 October 2007.

Alter, T.R., J.C. Bridger, S. Sager, and W.C. Shuffstall. Business Class Broadband . Rural Telecommunications Conference, Springfield, IL, 15 October 2007.

Alter, T.R. “The Economics of Geospatial Infrastructures” Geospatial Policy Symposium. Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Harrisburg, PA, 4 October 2007.

Current and Former Graduate Students

Glenn Sterner
Ph.D., Rural Sociology
(dissertation committee member) Expected 2013

Darren Keegan
Professional Doctorate candidate, University of New England, Australia
A Public Policy to Create a Low Carbon Place (dissertation committee supervisor) Expected 2014

Kyle Cecil 
Ph.D. , Education Administration & Policy, University of Illinois 
A Conceptualization of Faculty Social Responsibility of a Private Liberal Arts College (dissertation committee member) Expected 2013

Harry Robinson
Ph.D., Information Science and Technology
(dissertation committee member) Expected 2012

Phileshia Dombroski
Ph.D., Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management
(dissertation committee member) Expected 2014

Bruce Balfour
MPS, Community and Economic Development
The Research Park as Innovation Community: Cultural Innovation Capital and Interaction at National Laboratories (committee chair) Expected 2013

Jason Peirce
MPS, Community and Economic Development
The Responsible Banking Ordinance as a Community Development Mechanism (committee chair) 2012

Rob Ball
MPS, Community and Economic Development
The Fire Service in Community Development: Prevention, Partnerships, and Public Value (committee member) 2012

Andre Luiz da Silva
MPS, Community and Economic Development 
Knowledge, Knowledge Management, and Innovation: The Importance of Knowledgeable Citizens to Community and Economic Development Efforts (committee chair) 2012

Michael Fortunato
Ph.D., Rural Sociology
The Individual-Institutional-Opportunity Nexus in Entrepreneurship: Bridging Perspectives in Entrepreneurship and Local Economic Development (dissertation committee member) 2011

Jeffrey Barr
MPS in Community and Economic Development
The Role of Universities in Local Place-Based Development: Practice and Potential (committee chair) 2011

Brandon Woods
MPS in Community and Economic Development
Energy Efficiency & Sustainable Development at Naval Air Station(NAS)Jacksonville (committee chair) 2011

Omar Strohm
MPS in Community and Economic Development
Fiscal Distress in Third Class Pennsylvania Cities: A Case Study (committee chair) 2011

Lucas Shaeffer
MS in Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Economics and Demography
Domestic Migration and Self-Employment Growth: Is there a Relationship? (committee member) 2011

Michael Leahey
MPS in Community and Economic Development
Sustainable Community Economic Development: A Framework for Practitioner (committee member) 2010

Jason Bryan
MPS in Community and Economic Development
A Study of What Creates a Sense of Community within the Town of Freeport, Florida (committee member) 2010

Mary-Alice Maurette
Ph.D., Agricultural and Extension Education
The Influence of Cooperative Structure on Commitment and Member Satisfaction: A Case of the Murang'a Nutribusiness Cooperative in Kenya (disseration committee member) 2010

Eric McGinnis
MPS in Community and Economic Development
Philanthropy and Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Boom: An Examination of Philanthropic Opportunities in Rural Communities (committee chair) 2010

Chris Wimsatt
MPS in Community and Economic Development
Urban Redevelopment within the City of Dayton: A paper to assist community leaders and citizens interested in redeveloping Dayton’s urban core (committee chair) 2010

Kevin O’Donovan
Ph.D., Agribusiness, University College Dublin
Labor Efficiency on Irish Dairy Farms (dissertation committee member) 2009