FROM THE RSS President – October 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

There is no sugar-coating it. This year for the RSS -- and I am sure for you as well -- has been unlike any other. We are now more than six months into a global pandemic that has taken the lives of 1,000,000 people, and over 200,000 in the United States alone. There is still no end in sight as we continue to self-isolate while worrying about our family, friends, neighbors and communities, as economies contract, job losses mount, and insecurity grows. In the last few weeks we’ve witnessed climate change-related fires, storms, and floods of almost unimaginable scale, while we continue to face the ongoing trauma of racism and brutality within our communities. And all this is occurring at the same moment that the system of democracy within the United States and elsewhere appears as profoundly uncertain and destabilized as it has been in generations. These are profoundly uncertain, and if we are to be honest, deeply unsettling times. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves, your communities, and each other.

That said, I continue to find a great deal of hope within our Society, and I am consistently struck by the wealth of talent, commitment, energy, and intelligence of our members. I am profoundly grateful for the work of all of you who serve in elected positions, on committees, and are active within Research Interest Groups. I am more convinced than ever of the importance of the insights and perspectives generated by our discipline. We continue to actively promote and champion the recent work of our members, which is as timely as it is impressive: In the last number of weeks several of our RIGs have also organized virtual conference sessions, with an upcoming set of sessions for rural sociology graduate students in late October, organized by graduate student representatives to Council, Jasmine Whiteside and Sonja Lindberg. The work of our committees continues to push the RSS forward to be a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and ethical Society. All of this points to the enduring health and vitality of our organization, despite the many challenges we currently face.

Some of you have perhaps already been wondering about the 2021 RSS Annual Meeting. If so, you are not alone. We are operating within conditions of rapid change and significant uncertainty – not exactly optimal for conference planning. However, the RSS Council has been discussing multiple contingency plans for 2021, including online and hybrid conference formats, taking into account not only the longevity of the pandemic, but the impacts on travel, and both institutional and personal budgets. We anticipate gathering information from the membership later this fall to gauge what you all believe will be most feasible and desirable, with final decisions about how to proceed likely made around year’s end. We will continue to be in touch, solicit your feedback, and be as transparent about these decisions as we can.

Thank you for your continued involvement, commitment, and energy.

With very best regards,

Kai A. Schafft

President, Rural Sociological Society, 2020-21

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