Founded in 1990 by the Senate Agricultural Committee, the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) provides unbiased analysis on the challenges and opportunities facing rural America to facilitate public dialogue and help policymakers understand the impacts of strategies on rural people, places, and culture. RUPRI is housed within the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.
RUPRI’s mission is to ensure rural people have the resources and capacities to create strong, viable, meaningful, and sustainable futures that can both withstand and turn to advantage the forces of globalization and economic, demographic, and social change. RUPRI also aims to ensure rural and urban people find common cause and understanding about the role and governance of rural places and the contribution that rural culture makes to national identity.
As a senior research fellow, I am working with RUPRI leadership to integrate an arts and cultural dimension to their interdisciplinary portfolio of work. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the USDA Rural Development, RUPRI will establish a cultural research lab designed to strengthen the knowledge base on the cultural life of rural communities. This work will build on RUPRI’s comprehensive wealth framework, which examines the role of physical, financial, human, natural, social, and cultural capital in achieving sustainable rural prosperity. We aim to advance a more nuanced understanding of the unique ways culture generates value in non-urban contexts, and in doing so, to ensure rural voices play a more meaningful role in domestic cultural policy discourse.