Together, we create the future.

The Rural Futures Institute has determined the central point of innovation for the highly complex nature of rural communities is where students, faculty and communities connect.

All of our work must bring these three groups of people together in a way that results in future-focused, strategic action that embraces opportunities in leadership, technology and collaboration.


Work With RFI



RFI Engagement Nexus




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.


RFI’s Role


Convene to Create

Intentionally connect partners and doers to discover and innovate.

Contribute to the Future

Stimulate research and applications of future-focused ideas and evidence-based practices.

Communicate to Advocate

Share insights and solutions to elevate the value and voice of rural nationwide.

Current Initiatives

Rural Futures Podcast

As our high-tech, globalized world continues to collide with the values, principles and ethics of humanity, the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska is breaking into the currently polarizing narratives of the rural-urban divide, technology development and the future of work through its weekly podcast, “Rural Futures with Dr. Connie.”


Partnership With Microsoft GM Shelley McKinley

Connectivity and overall access to technology are critical areas of need for rural economic development, health care access, education and more. As Microsoft works to build a better future, Shelley McKinley, General Manager of Microsoft’s Technology and Corporate Responsibility Group, shared how the company is connecting people, so everyone has access to the opportunities that technology provides.


Visit Proceedings

Rural Innovator Exchange Through Japan Society

In partnership with Japan Society, based in New York City, N.Y., and Japan NPO Center, based in Tokyo, the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska hosted a panel discussion entitled, “A Thriving Rural Future in Japan and the United States,” Oct. 27, 2017. The following day, RFI took the visitors on a tour of southeast Nebraska, stopping in Nebraska City, Neb., and Auburn, Neb.

In fall 2018 Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., RFI interim executive director and chief futurist, traveled throughout rural Japan exploring the role of women and entrepreneurship.

2017 Recap

2018 Recap

Experienced, Innovative Convener


RFI Student Serviceship

RFI connects communities to college students and students to rural communities, leaders and mentors for strategic projects. In total, 62 students have lived, worked and served 32 rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.


Research & Teaching

From 2013 – 2017 RFI funded 50 research and teaching projects in pursuit of new opportunities and the development of innovative solutions to challenges facing rural people and places.


RFI Fellows

A pilot program of RFI Fellows ran February 2017 – June 2018 to bring Community Innovation and Faculty Fellows together to determine projects for action and growth potential.