Many miles and a few time zones later, I have transitioned into the UK portion of our Durham program. After two weeks of living, working and learning here I have been able to draw many comparisons between the economic development and history of the Durham in the UK to Durham in the US. In “this Durham”, coal mining defines the economic history of the region, leaving ties that are evident in the social constructs of Durham County. Years after the last coal mine closed, Durham still hosts the Miners’ Gala, an event that brings together both rural communities and political leaders. We visited the Killhope mining museum as a part of our enrichment curriculum and were even able to experience going underground in a mine. These experiences in the UK mirrored our tours and discussions about tobacco in North Carolina.
This Wednesday, we were able to meet with the Deputy Mayor and members of the Economic Development committee for Durham, who spoke about the current state of Durham’s economy and how Durham is influenced by the changing political atmosphere of the UK. They spoke about the economic influence of the Brexit vote on Durham County with potential losses of thousands of pounds for Durham residents, despite the majority of residents voting to leave the European Union.
After meeting with the Deputy Mayor, we toured a science and technology incubator, Netpark. We learned about how Netpark is working to expand those industries by investing in the success of companies in their initial stages. This model in many ways is similar to the American Underground, which we toured in North Carolina. The American Underground is a space for startups and entrepreneurs to collaborate and gain resources for growth.
Through this experience, I’ve learned how the world is a much smaller place than we realize. Despite the differences between “the Durhams”, both regions encounter many of the same economic issues and also are on innovative pathways to growth. Through my experiences in Durham, I have learned much about the importance of learning from other countries, regions and cities when it comes to the implementation of economic policy. Through others’ experiences, we can both gain new ideas and learn from each others’ mistakes.
Be on the lookout for my next blog post, in which I will go in depth on my experience working for Durham University in their community outreach department.
Ashley McCurry, Class of 2018, Public Policy