The complex interconnection among issues affecting rural-regional sustainability requires an equally complex program of research to ensure the attraction and retention of high-quality teachers for rural children. The educational effects of the construction of the rural within a deficit discourse are highlighted. A concept of rural social space is modelled, bringing together social, economic and environmental dimensions of (rural-regional) sustainability. This framework combines quantitative definitional processes with more situated definitions of rural space based on demographic and other social data, across both geographic and cultural formations. The implications of the model are examined in terms of its importance for teacher education. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR].