Our Approach

Reimagining the relationship between universities and rural communities

Through innovative partnerships, we aim to empower rural voices, expand networks, address pressing challenges, and celebrate the unique culture and heritage of rural life. Together, we're advancing a more optimistic future for rural Indiana.

We are:

Building upon strengths

We're identifying and building upon the strengths and assets already present in rural communities.


Delivering fresh ideas

We're connecting rural partners with fresh ideas and cutting-edge discoveries that fit their needs.


Responding to challenges

We're leveraging evidence-based practices and the creativity of IU’s faculty, staff, and students to meet emerging needs.

Advancing rural research

We're bolstering community-engaged research in rural spaces with asset-based methodologies and trusted relationships.


We're achieving this by:

By harnessing Indiana University’s assets, we’re developing and strengthening the skills, abilities, processes, and resources rural communities need. To do this, we:

  • Connect partners to funding opportunities and grant-supporting resources

  • Facilitate asset-based community development practices and support local assessments

  • Create and share comprehensive and accessible resources, toolkits, and workshops

  • Provide opportunities for leadership training and organizational development

By creating and expanding networks, the center builds trust through partnership, connecting community leaders, faculty, students, and state and business leaders. We:

  • Convene existing and potential partners to share ideas and best practices
  • Connect students, faculty, community, business, and governmental leaders and create professional pathways for IU graduates
  • Build collaborations to advance rural health and prosperity across the country through the translation and replication of successful initiatives
  • Foster interdisciplinary projects that connect campus and community stakeholders across existing silos

By bolstering rural representation and engagement in state and national spheres, we’re elevating rural voices to increase advocacy and equity and to celebrate rural creativity and cultural diversity. We:

  • Conduct needs assessments and examine quality-of-life metrics informed by the diverse perspectives of rural residents
  • Translate and disseminate rural research findings leveraging university communications resources
  • Expand and deepen opportunities for self-expression, collective reflection, storytelling, and creative activity in collaboration with rural communities
  • Increase resources and services that reduce disparities and support underserved populations to strengthen their involvement in the future of their communities

See our approach in action

Building capacity through funding opportunities

Capacity development in action

A partnership with the Environmental Resilience Institute, the Indiana Resilience Funding Hub helps Hoosier communities pursue federal funding opportunities for climate, energy, and resilience projects.

Build your capacity

Strengthening health networks

Networking in action

Through health improvement planning initiatives, communities are working together to meet a range of objectives, from gaps in services to preventing and treating chronic conditions.

Expand your network

Informing community decisions

Rural empowerment in action

Through our resource directory, we are sharing data, research, and tools that empower rural communities with the knowledge needed to thrive.

Explore resources

The Center for Rural Engagement staff strives to ensure just and equitable engagement and impact with all partners.

Read our commitment to justice and equity