Meet the Founder

While many Americans are presently astonished at conditions in rural America, Robert Giles, Jr., Ph.D., has been working tirelessly for decades on planning solutions to interconnected rural problems. His newly released book, Rural Future: An Alternative for Society Before 2050 AD, introduces his system of solutions, Rural System, that can meet the coming crises of water shortages in 2030 and food shortages in 2050. Dr. Giles is a Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Management at Virginia Tech where he taught for 30 years. His Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Master of Science degree in Wildlife Management are from Virginia Tech. His Ph.D. in Zoology is from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Giles was born on May 25, 1933 in Lynchburg, Virginia. He attended E.C. Glass High School, during which he was awarded a Bausch and Lomb Science award for studies of the ring-necked pheasant. As an Eagle Scout, he was awarded the W.T. Hornaday National Award for Distinguished Service to Conservation and the James E. West Scouting Conservation Scholarship. During his undergraduate years at Virginia Tech, Dr. Giles was an editor for several magazines and the president of the V.P.I. Corps of Cadets of 6,000 students. He was also a member of seven national honorary societies.

During his time as a Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Virginia Tech, Dr. Giles was known for his innovative applications of computer programming and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to land management questions well before such skills became standard practice within the field (and before GIS was a term). With the support of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), he created the woodland resource management system of TVA, once used on 300 farms a year. With staff and students, he created the first wildlife information base (BOVA – Biota of Virginia database). As chairman of a local planning commission, consultant to the National Wildlife Refuge System, aid to the State Cooperation Commission, consultant for Wintergreen and several realtors, and as a landowner himself, he has developed a unique and alternative perspective on land and its management. He wrote the first plan for wildlife other-than-game for Virginia.

Dr. Giles began working on the Rural System concept in the early 1980s, but did not begin in earnest until his retirement in 1998. When asked about his aims for designing Rural System, he said, “I am now convinced that a superior demonstration of modern comprehensive natural resource management is badly needed and is now possible and most likely within the context of a new corporate rural structure. I do not want to do research. I do want demonstrations of the results of literally millions of dollars of unused research findings. I propose to bring all the power of the computer that I can to realistic and relevant use for parts of the region. This will include using that power already achieved by investments of resource agencies. I propose a system, subject to the law and to reasonable issues of cost, propriety, and community acceptance, that achieves such objectives.”

A colleague of his once said that Dr. Giles can come up with more ideas in an hour than most people can in a lifetime. His creativity is exceeded only by his humanity. Raised in Southwest Virginia, Dr. Giles knows the struggles of people in Central Appalachia, impoverished after the collapse of coal and tobacco industries. He has visited rural areas of Africa (Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda), China and India, and is well-educated in the sufferings of people in poverty worldwide.

Dr. Giles is a systems thinker. He believes that the problems faced by environmentalists and those of interest to humanitarians are interconnected, and that a system of problems must be met with a system of solutions. His career, his values, and his innovative capabilities make him uniquely suited to tell the story of how a for-profit systems approach can best solve the rural problems of a progressive, capitalist society.

The full CV of Robert H. Giles can be found at, including a list of publications. For further details, please read this bio.