"The Future of Rural"
Major disruptions and exponential transformations are creating new challenges and opportunities. Advances in science and technology, uncertain policy modifications, political challenges and a massive evolution in consumer behaviors and expectations, have created a need for both incremental and radical innovation in both business and life. The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska was established to foster innovations that benefit the rural sector where depopulation, and in some cases geographic challenges, create unique circumstances that cannot be addressed using technology alone. The value of rural communities can be difficult to quantify and even justify; however, the growing global population will need food, clothing and water. Many rural areas house the natural, agricultural and human capital needed to produce enough food to feed a growing (and increasingly urban) population. Further, whole nations are beginning to question the concentration of too many people in urban centers for health, environmental and safety reasons. Solutions will not come from an urban vs. rural approach to the future. RFI believes our complex future requires mutual respect and collaboration between rural and urban leaders, regions and communities. Opportunities for inclusive collaboration between rural and urban communities have the potential to benefit all of humanity. RFI is committed to creating a high-touch, high-tech future for rural people andplaces in partnership with communities, students and faculty (the RFI Nexus). This approach to engagement-based innovation enables RFI to co-create the future with new paradigms as well as future-focused leadership. Join the conversation to learn more about RFI and opportunities to co-create the future together!
Chuck Schroeder, Founding Executive Director
Leadership and diverse interests have characterized Chuck Schroeder’s multifaceted career. He is currently the founding Executive Director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, a position he assumed in December 2013. His previous senior executive experience spans ranching, rural politics, higher education fundraising, a national trade association representing the US beef industry, and a national cultural institution. He was also involved in founding three rural-focused nonprofit organizations: the Heartland Center for Leadership Development, the Rural Policy Research Institute, and Agriculture Future of America. Schroeder is also an accomplished portrait artist and horseman. You can “Catch Up with Chuck” every week on RFI’s Facebook page, as he visits with scholars, students and community leaders who are making a difference for rural people and places.
Connie Reimers-Hild, Associate Executive Director & Chief Futurist
Researcher, entrepreneur and high-touch futurist, Dr. Connie, helps leaders and organizations reach their desired futures through strengths-based innovation and strategic foresight. She proudly serves as the Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska andis also the founder of Wild Innovation, a consulting and coaching firm serving private and public sector organizations. Clients range from rural hospitals in Nebraska to remote villages in Nigeria and include a business with a $22 million annual footprint as well as global organizations like Lockheed Martin. Dr. Connie hosts the Rural Futures Podcast, a global conversation for entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers at the intersection of leadership, technology and what it means to be human.