RFI chief futurist presents throughout rural Japan immersion convened by Japan Society

Map of Japan with markers to Reimers-Hild locations

 

“RFI brings forward some of the boldest solutions for rural areas, and we can only do that by continually gaining perspective. Conducting research internationally, collaborating with urban counterparts such as the Japan Society and maintaining a future-focused, strategic mindset are all essential pieces to meeting our mission. We look forward to the ongoing outcomes of this project while creating new opportunities for rural areas.”
Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D.
RFI Interim Executive Director & Chief Futurist

Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., RFI interim executive director & chief futurist, is serving as futurist for the project, Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S., convened by the Japan Society Innovators Network and supported by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas) and R&R Consulting.

During a 10-day immersion throughout Japan, primarily in rural communities, she shared her framework of strategic foresight and emphasized the empowerment of women as a key focus for rural communities in both countries. Her paper will be published by the Japan Society soon.

“The issues we face here in the Great Plains of the U.S. are acute in rural Japan — depopulation, aging — however, creative solutions are part of the narrative,” Reimers-Hild said. “What stood out to me most was how much both countries need to tap into and empower female leaders and entrepreneurs. This is going to take a shift in mindset and culture.”

Reimers-Hild first presented at the forum, “When Local Wisdom Goes Global,” held at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan. The forum focused on the dissemination of information, emphasizing that it is now possible for an organization in a small town, a village, or even a hamlet to disseminate information that ends up having a global reach, and receive direct feedback from individuals and organizations anywhere in the world.

She also presented with her U.S. counterparts at the forum, “Challenges in Regional Revitalization: Insights from American and Japanese Rural Innovators,” which was held at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Japan. This forum addressed the common challenges of depopulation, low-birth rate and declining local economies in both rural U.S. and rural Japan. In both countries, innovators are tackling these enduring challenges to create sustainable economies and communities.

Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S. is one of several multi-year projects facilitated by the Innovators Network to provide unique opportunities for leaders and innovators to come together, share knowledge and insight and catalyze positive social change.

This trip was the second phase of the project. Initially leaders from Japan visited West Virginia, Ohio and Nebraska in October 2017, during which RFI hosted a forum at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a rural Nebraska immersion in Nebraska City, Neb., and Peru State College.

“RFI brings forward some of the boldest solutions for rural areas, and we can only do that by continually gaining perspective,” Reimers-Hild said. “Conducting research internationally, collaborating with urban counterparts such as the Japan Society and maintaining a future-focused, strategic mindset are all essential pieces to meeting our mission. We look forward to the ongoing outcomes of this project while creating new opportunities for rural areas.”