We harness the intellectual energy of the University of Nebraska and its partners to positively impact the future of humankind.


We believe for America to thrive, our rural residents and communities must thrive. We’ve learned that growing a vibrant rural sector takes:



The Rural Futures Institute, one of four interdisciplinary Institutes of the University of Nebraska (NU), leverages the talents and research-based expertise from across the four NU campuses on behalf of rural communities in Nebraska, the U.S. and around the world. Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, the institute encourages bold and futuristic approaches to address critical rural issues. It works collaboratively with educational, business, community, non-profit, government and foundation partners to empower rural communities and their leaders.



Vision Statement

Rural America unleashes the full potential of its leadership, economic capacity, cultural creativity and natural resources, creating explicit value for small and large communities within and beyond its geography. Rural places have become the legitimate best choice for leaders, businesses, families, graduates and explorers. Rural people earn global respect for fueling the future of humankind. View the full RFI Vision Story

RFI Nexus

We have determined that the central point of innovation for the highly complex nature of rural communities is where students, faculty and communities connect. It is important to note that “students” refers to learners from secondary through adulthood; “faculty” refers to those within the University of Nebraska and beyond; and “communities” are not just localities, but also networked groups of people and communities of practice.



Strategic Impact Areas

Convene to Create

Intentionally connect students, faculty and communities to stimulate discovery and innovation.

Contribute to the Future

Stimulate research and apply future-focused ideas and evidence-based practices designed to grow the body of knowledge.

Celebrate to Elevate

Share stories of successes and solutions from scholars, leaders, entrepreneurs and funders to elevate the value and voice of rural nationwide.


Core Values

We seek new possibilities at the intersection of strategic foresight, advancing technologies and what it means to be human.

We recognize the value of all people and honor diverse perspectives.

We bring people and disparate ideas together to solve complex, interconnected problems.

We work with utmost character—integrity, reliability and fairness.

Hopeful Grit
We value courageous perseverance, optimism and passionate confidence.




Printable: 2017 Strategic Plan