The Rural Renewal Initiative began in 2019 and includes a team of diverse researchers and external partners committed to improving quality of life in rural Oklahoma communities and beyond through interdisciplinary research, student involvement and community engagement. The symposium is meant to foster collaboration among rural renewal scientists on issues facing rural communities while promoting related research. CEN team members enjoyed their time this year at the Symposium and gained incredible insight to share.
“The Symposium brings people together across disciplines, and it is amazing to see what engineers, sociologists, health care professionals, economists and educators are doing in rural areas,” Andy Wilson, CEN Program Director shared. “I visited with a young lady from Ghana who commented that she never realized there were so many rural areas in the United States – since what they see in the media is often urban areas. It’s a reminder that there are more rural communities than urban, and it will take a village of professionals to renew this great place in our society.”
The Symposium provides incredible opportunities for leadership across industries to come together and share resources and ideas. Topics covered throughout the event include: Rural School-Community Partnerships, Agriculture and Rural Sustainability, Addressing Rural Educational Needs, The (un)changing Map of Rural Poverty: Identifying Enduring Poverty Areas for Rural Renewal, Rurality as Asset, Why Historic Main Streets Are Important for Rural Oklahoma, and more. Brittany Williams, CEN Director of Strategic Partnerships, argues the conversations between formal sessions were likewise extremely valuable.
“Social capital is to have good relationships with others who have access to valuable resources and insight to share,” Williams said. Altogether, the Symposium was an incredible event for attendees to hear new perspectives, gain insight on different aspects of rural communities, and fuel their passion for building prosperous communities through rural education.