Christopher D. Merrett is director and professor in the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University. As IIRA director, Merrett oversees a university-based research, outreach, teaching, and policy development unit comprised of 20 community development faculty and professionals.
In addition to his management role, he teaches courses in Principles of Community Development, Non-metro Planning, and Philosophy and History of Geography. He also serves on the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, is current Chairperson of Rural Partners, and has raised over $6 million in external grant funding to support community and economic development outreach and research. His current research focuses on cooperatives and community development. Merrett co-edited two books on this topic, including A Cooperative Approach to Local Economic Development (2001) and Cooperatives and Local Development: Theory and Applications for the 21st Century (2003).
He has also published in a range of journals on topics such as value-added agriculture, cooperatives, rural land use, social justice, and rural community and economic development. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Iowa, with a focus on regional development and international trade.