We partner with rural communities to improve lives

We bring together people, research, cultural assets, and expertise to improve quality of life and address rural challenges from addiction to the arts.

Together with our partners, we have become a national model for how universities can support the needs and futures of rural residents and communities.

Find out more about us     Partner with us

Our progress

280projects launched in 58 Indiana counties

6,140+IU students mobilized to help Hoosier communities

33,700+residents engaged in 87+ communities

We’re connecting communities with innovative arts and cultural collaborations

Creative writing workshops are designed to celebrate the diversity of small-town life. These workshops help people to imagine more dynamic stories for their communities.

Description of the video:


[Graphic Animation Appears: Indiana University Presents]

[Video: A car rides down a country road in the spring, trees are starting to bloom and the sun is out.]

[Video: A truck drives down the main street of Nashville, IN. There are people walking into local shops.]

[Video: A dog walks along the brick sidewalk next to people walking by.]

[Text appears: IU’s Center for Rural Engagement and the Arts and Humanities Council]

[Video: Two college students sit under the Brown County, Indiana sign on a wooden bench]

[Video: A plaque featuring the story of Hoosier Onya LaTour sits on a fireplace mantle in the Brown County Public Library conference room.]

[Text appears: have expanded their arts and cultural offerings to Indiana communities.]

[Video: Shoppers pass through the entrance of a local store on the main street of Nashville, IN.]

[Video: A high schooler is writing down poetry at the table during the poetry workshop.]

[Text appears: Projects like the creative writing workshops]

[Video: Writers old and young sit together in the conference room looking at their papers and writing.]

[Text appears: provides a space for expression and communication.]

[Video: An older writer feeds her service dogs that are hiding under the table.]

[Text appears: Led by IU English Professor Catherine Bowman,]

[Video: A woman joins the writing table where Professor Bowman sits at the end jotting down ideas.]

[Video: An older writer reads her poem to the rest of the workshop visitors.]

[Text appears: CRE’s writing workshops are designed to celebrate the diversity of small-town life.]

[Video: Shoppers pass by on the sidewalk of the main street in Nashville, IN.

[Video: An man approaches Nashville General Store and Bakery.]

[Video: Professor Bowman explains some writing techniques with a smile on her face to the other writers.]

[Text appears: These workshops help people to imagine more dynamic stories for their communities.]

[Video: All the writers are busy working on their exercise at the corner of a table.]

[Video: A busy street in Nashville, IN.]

[Video: A tourist vehicle called the “Nashville Express” zooms by and down the street. It is designed to look like a steam locomotive.]

[Video: A writer shares a funny comment with the others.]

[Text appears: Storytelling provides a sense of resiliency for individuals and communities.]

[Video: A writer listens to the funny comment across the table.]

[Video: A writer jots down ideas on her paper.]

[Text appears: +1,500 residents participated in IU’s rural arts programs in a single year.]

[Video: Professor Bowman listens to the comments of other writers around the table.]

[Video: A younger writer looks down at her paper and works.]

[Text appears: Storytelling helps communities understand their past, present, and future.]

[Graphics appear: IU Center For Rural Engagement and IU Arts and Humanities Council]


With food, music, and activities for all ages, Huntingburg's 4th Fridays provide a way for the residents of Huntingburg to come together and celebrate as a community in the new Market Street Park.  

Description of the video:


[Text Animation Appears: Indiana University Presents]

[Video: Graphic of IU trident and text appears in top right corner of screen, video of a young kid jumping on and sliding down an inflatable bounce obstacle course is shown. Multiple kids are running around the grass near the inflatable]

[Video: drummer of the Zachary Finnegan Quartet plays on stage alongside bass player]

[Video: A woman orders a snow cone from a gentlemen in a Kone Ice food truck parked at Fourth Fridays]

[Video: A wide shot of the Fourth Fridays festival, babies with parents on the grass, band shell in the background]

[Video: Close up shot of bass player picking away at his upright bass strings on stage]

[Video: Trumpet player Zachary Finnegan appears at the middle of the band shell stage playing trumpet to the crowd]

[Mayor Denny Spinner speaks as voiceover: Fourth Fridays is a way for us to bring our community together and celebrate in Market Street Park…]

[Video: Denny Spinner is being interviewed in a public work space near Market Street Park]

[Words appear: Denny Spinner, Mayor, Huntingburg]

[Mayor Denny Spinner speaks on camera: …which is a new addition to Huntingburg as part of our Stellar Communities Program…]

[Video: Wide view of Market Street Park with festival goers and the new band shell]

[Mayor Spinner speaks: We were trying to think of ways to really utilize it in a positive way, so Fourth Fridays was the idea, based on some other festivals we had seen around our area.]

[Video: Wide shots of festival goers eating food, cutting to an easel with the Fourth Fridays poster while families walk into the park, cutting to a food truck with a line of people.]

Mayor Spinner speaks: …once a month, there’d be a time when there would be activity and events in the downtown…

[Video: Kids crawl into a bounce house. Video cuts to teenagers walking a dog through the urban park sidewalk]

[Video cuts to Mayor Spinner in the public work space]

[Mayor Spinner continues: …and just bring together the community to experience what this new urban park can be for us.]

[Video: Video cuts to a walking shot of festival goers waving at one another in the courtyard, seated and eating food.]

[Video: Zachary Finnegan stands at the back of the band shell, talking to interviewer off-screen.]

[Words appear: Zachary Finnegan, Jacobs Student Graduate, Zachary Finnegan Quartet]

[Zachary Finnegan speaks on camera: Well this is my first time that I have been able to perform at a county festival in Indiana, and it’s been really great…]

[Video: cuts to shot moving around the front of the band shell while Zachary Finnegan Quartet performs on stage]

[Finnegan speaks in voiceover: …this is an amazing venue, I was talking to a few of the people that work here…]

[Video: Zachary on camera talking to interviewer off-screen in the band shell.]

[Finnegan continues: …and have seen this transform over the last few years…]

[Video: A close up shot of the drummer’s foot playing the bass drum pedal on stage]

[Finnegan continues in voiceover: …and it’s been just a pleasure being here…]

[Video: A close up of Finnegan playing the trumpet on stage]

[Finnegan continues in voiceover: …and I’ll be honest this is my first time in Huntingburg…]

[Video: Drummer and keyboard player perform on stage.]

[Finnegan continues in voiceover: …so we came in, and I had no idea what to expect.]

[Video: Keyboard player plays the piano, cutting to bassist performing across the stage, cutting to a wide shot of the entire band on the stage.]

[Finnegan continues in voiceover: …I’ve been welcomed with open arms, it’s been a wonderful experience, not only in Huntingburg, but also in Bloomington and really any other place that I’ve played.]

[Mayor Spinner on-camera: The Fourth Fridays is just part of our engagement with IU.]

[Video: IU students sing alongside Southridge High School students during a performance of Hamiltunes.]

[Mayor Spinner continues in voiceover: …Having them in our schools for events like Hamiltunes…]

[Video: IU students perform as their band Bike Wreck at the Fourth Fridays band shell.]

[Mayor Spinner continues in voiceover: …the music that’s here is going to be different than maybe somebody has heard before.]

[Video: Festival goers sit in their fold-out IU chairs while watching the band Bike Wreck perform on stage.]

[Mayor Spinner continues in voiceover: …so I just think that this engagement over the next two to three years…]

[Video: Festival goers walk around the park near a Center for Rural Engagement pop-up tent.]

[Video: A lady talks to Center for Rural Engagement representative Adrian Starnes at the pop-up tent, cutting to a wide shot of the band shell near the historical courthouse.]

[Mayor Spinner continues in voiceover: …is something that will bring a new vitality, a new life, and a new opportunity…]

[Video: Mayor Spinner on camera in public work space.]

[Mayor Spinner continues on camera: to our small community, that really was looking for something like this.]

[Video: Camera moves towards the Zachary Finnegan Quartet on stage, then pans up to the ceiling of the band shell.]

[Text appears: Center for Rural Engagement, Arts and Humanities Council]


Students in programs like IU Jacobs School of Music’s Classical Connections are sharing mentoring sessions and performances with elementary, middle, and high schools throughout rural Indiana.

Description of the video:


[Video: The Soma Quartet members stand side by side performing]

[Image: Brown County High School]

[Image: High School students partnered with IU Jacobs School of Music performers on stage]

[Text appears: Classical Connections. The Soma Quartet. Jacobs School of Music.]

[Video: The Soma Quartet members stand side by side performing]

[Video: High School students partnered with IU Jacobs School of Music performers on stage]

[Video: The Soma Quartet members stand side by side performing]

[Text Animation Appears: This is a very special opportunity for us to get out into the community, to share what we know and to help build capacity while getting students excited about careers in music. Alain Barker, Jacobs School of Music]

[Video: Jacobs School of Music students perform on stage with Brown County High School students]

 [Video: Student walks a timpani down a school hallway]

[Video: High School students partnered with IU Jacobs School of Music performers on stage]

[Image] Community members gather in a hallway of the high school after the performance]

[Video: The Soma Quartet members stand side by side performing]

[Text appears: The IU Center for Rural Engagement is proud to partner with the Jacobs School of Music to share new musical opportunities with rural communities]

[Text appears: Center for Rural Engagement. rural.indiana.edu]



Description of the video:


[Video: Aerial view of Downtown Salem in Washington County]

[Text appears: Washington County, Indiana. Population 28,415. Home to:]

[Images: Four landscape images, including a picture of the Knobstone Trail, Delaney lake, a park, and a close up of flowers.]

[Text appears: Beautiful natural landscapes]

[Images: Four images of people gathered together, including two images of people in downtown Salem Indiana, a group of students laughing together, and a close up of a group having a conversation]

[Text appears: Close-knit communities]

[Images: Four images of well-known locations in Washington County, including the Salem Depot, Beck's Mill, The John Hay Center, and a close-up sign commemorating the Salem downtown historic district.]

[Text appears: Historic roots]

[Images: Four images of agricultural landscapes, including a cornfield, cow's roaming, an industrial site, and a wide-open field.]

[Text appears: Rich agricultural and manufacturing industries]

[Video: Sustaining Hoosier Communities director, Jane Rogan shares a presentation with community members of Washington County]

[Text appears: and a partnership with Indiana University]

[Text appears: Building on two years of extensive collaboration, the IU Center for Rural Engagement and Washington County are connecting hundreds of IU students and their faculty with leaders and residents to complete more than a dozen local projects as part of the award-winning Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative.]

[Video: Aerial view of Salem Indiana residential area]

[Text appears: Together we create thriving]

[Images: Four images of performances in Washington County, including Stories from Home, Singing Hoosiers, an all-ages ballet class, and high school students performing music with Jacobs School of Music students.]

[Text appears: arts and culture]

[Images: Four images including a mural in Salem Indiana, colorful downtown buildings, a painted bison, and Beck's Mill]

[Text appears: placemaking]

[Images: Four images including a brochure and bag for Indiana University Community Health programs, Two people stretching before a hike, a screenshot of a coronavirus resource website, and a group of people doing yoga in a circle outdoors]

[Text appears: health and wellness]

[Images: Four images including a wooded trail, a person reading the Indiana Uplands Food Network report, a stack of flyers, and an aerial view of a stream.]

[Text appears: community resilience]

[Images: Four images including a group of young children practicing ballet, a scenic view of West Washington High School, a high school choir singing, and young students completing an assignment together.]

[Text appears: youth opportunities]

[Video: Blurred view of tree leaves in sunlight]

[Text appears: When Hoosiers work together we all shine]

[Fade to black]

[Text appears: Center for Rural Engagement. rural.indiana.edu]


We’re empowering communities and students through engaged learning experiences

Our innovative Sustaining Hoosier Communities model pairs rural communities with IU Bloomington courses to bring local visions and goals to life. We've launched partnerships with communities to support many new projects.

See the projects

We’re building a healthier, more sustainable future for everyone

Community Health Improvement Plans

Local leaders are joining us to conduct community health needs assessments and develop community health improvement plans.

See your county's progress

Indiana Uplands Food Network

Community and campus partners throughout the Indiana Uplands are creating strategies that will improve the regional food system.

Join the food network

Parks, Recreation, and Protected Lands

We partnered with the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands to identify key opportunities to enhance recreational and public lands resources.

Take a tour

Build stronger rural communities with us