RSS Update on Coronavirus

March 15, 2020

Dear RSS Membership,

The RSS Executive Council has been closely following the unfolding circumstances related to the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and elsewhere. As we watch the rapid progression of public schools and universities eliminating all but essential operations, mounting airline disruptions, conferences announcing cancellations, and recommendations for immediate social distancing, we have begun discussions regarding contingency planning for our 2020 Annual Rural Sociological Society meetings in Westminster, Colorado.

We are at this point consulting with RSS Council, and actively reviewing all of our options. We have a scheduled Executive Council meeting at the end of the month, and shortly after that we intend to make an announcement to the membership concerning any contingency plans. Cancelling or postponing the Annual Meeting is certainly not a move we would have ever anticipated or desired. However, we are committed to prioritizing the health and well-being of our members, while at the same time acting in full accordance with broader public health recommendations.

As a final note, I would like to acknowledge yet again the importance of the work we do as rural sociologists. This pandemic starkly illustrates so many of the issues at the heart of our shared intellectual and scholarly inquiry: the social, political and economic impacts of globalization, the complex relationship between social and spatial inequalities, social justice and distribution of risk, and fundamental questions connected to the nature of community and democracy. I therefore encourage us, despite these trying circumstances, to continue to insert our scholarship and insights into ongoing public debates so that we may help to directly inform some of the most complex social issues of our time.

We appreciate your patience, and we will be providing updates as we have them.


Kai Schafft
RSS President, 2019-2020
Professor of Education and Rural Sociology
Penn State University
Department of Education Policy Studies
200 Rackley Building
University Park, PA 16854

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The Rural Sociological Society (RSS)

The RSS is a professional social science association that promotes the generation, application, and dissemination of sociological knowledge. The Society seeks to enhance the quality of rural life, communities, and the environment. This website is intended to serve all those interested in rural people and places.

We seek and support a diverse and international membership of academics and practitioners who share our interests in rural people and places.

What We Do

The core activities of the Rural Sociological Society are our peer-reviewed journal, Rural Sociology, our annual conference, and support for communities of scholars concerned with specific rural topics. Through these activities, the RSS has provided leadership in scholarship, policies, and advocacy. Since its founding in 1937, the RSS has traced changes in rural life and livelihoods, demography, community structures and economies, technologies, environmental conditions, and agriculture and food systems.

Shared Values at the Rural Sociological Society

In these politically turbulent times we wish to share with others the core values that we believe animate and organize our activities as members and leaders of the Rural Sociological Society (RSS).  We believe in the free expression of ideas, in civil discourse and mutual respect among participants, and in the value of scientific research without political considerations.  We oppose actions and words that demean, exclude, and otherwise marginalize individuals and groups of different genders, races, identities, sexual orientations, and national origins.  We seek to assist vulnerable and marginalized peoples wherever they may be. 

The Benefits of Membership

Why RSS? RSS offers multiple opportunities to interact with others who share your interests in rural places both in the United States and internationally.  We have fourteen Research and Interest Groups. RSS keeps you informed of professional opportunities via our website and monthly eBulletin.  A subscription to our journal Rural Sociology is included with your membership. RSS members receive a discounted registration rate to our Annual Meeting (held late July or August each year).  RSS members take an active part in the program of the annual meeting by submitting posters, papers, panels, and organized sessions. RSS offers leadership opportunities.

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Research and Interest Groups (RIGs)

What are Research and Interest Groups? Research and Interest Groups (RIGs) reflect the substantive interests of RSS Members and serve as an important avenue for connecting members with similar interests.  RIGs serve a critical role in RSS including: identifying, developing, and recruiting for the annual RSS conference; planning special events, speakers, field trips for the annual conference; providing intellectual leadership in their respective areas; rewarding achievement through internal awards and recognitions; and creating opportunities for members, particularly graduate students, to network and identify colleagues with similar interests. 

RSS currently has 14 RIGs. 

More information can be found here