The Rural Futures Institute will hold another conference in the fall of 2015. A date and location will be determined later this year. If you would like to get updates on upcoming conferences and events, please sign up for RFI news alerts.


The 2013 Conference:

Going “Beyond Boundaries,” was the purpose of the 2013 Rural Futures Conference that was held Nov. 3-5  at the Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska-sponsored event engaged over 500 people with widely varying experiences, disciplines and perspectives on rural life, bringing ideas together to enrich the efforts of the Rural Futures Institute.The conference program was designed to nudge participants into imagining new solutions to old problems by creating structured as well as informal opportunities for conference-goers to socialize and engage in problem-solving activities. It also aimed to highlight the Rural Futures Institute’s first-year accomplishments and to explore some of the key challenges facing rural communities as they strive to shape their future.

The Rural Futures Conference held sessions highlighting various speakers, namely humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, who portrayed Thomas Jefferson as he discussed pushing the boundaries of the U.S. beyond the Mississippi River; Tom Koulopoulos, president and founder of the Delphi Group who provided participants with creative strategies for identifying and solving problems in their communities; and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who identified challenges for rural people to harness new economic ideas for the rural future. Additional highlights of the conference included welcoming the Rural Futures Institute Founding Director, Chuck Schroeder, learning about big ideas from conference participants in the Quick Pitch Spotlight, and collaborating with attendees and communities through the Posters and Partnering session. Find the full conference agenda here.

“I look forward to the success of this bold, risky, ambitious effort for us to ensure that we do everything we can to tap the intellectual capabilities, the energy and the commitment of people at our universities, our communities and our governments to build a great rural life in America and beyond.”

J.B. Milliken, University of Nebraska President


Conference Videos: View the highlight video along with videos of each of the main stage speakers and breakout session report videos.

Community Questions: Preview a list of communities and the questions they showcased during an evening social at the conference. These community teams went to great lengths to pose a serious question for conference attendees to react to.

Quick Pitch Spotlight: Conference participants shared their “big idea” for rural people and places during a fast paced pitch competition. Winners from each podium were chosen along with an audience favorite.

Posters: Research and big idea posters were showcased and presented as posters at the conference. Winners were chosen for the graduate and undergraduate poster competition.